Wednesday 28 September 2016

'It’s a big slap in the face' – Irish designers react to Team Ireland’s New Balance Olympic kit

Amy Mulvaney

Published 08/06/2016 | 19:19

Irish Olympic team 2016 members (left-right) Ellis O'Reilly, Ciara Mageean, Katie Taylor and Chloe Magee during the Team Ireland official 2016 kit launch at the Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin
Irish Olympic team 2016 members (left-right) Ellis O'Reilly, Ciara Mageean, Katie Taylor and Chloe Magee during the Team Ireland official 2016 kit launch at the Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin
Irish Olympic team 2016 members (left-right) Ellis O'Reilly, Ciara Mageean, Katie Taylor and Chloe Magee during the Team Ireland official 2016 kit launch
Irish Olympic team 2016 members Diver Oliver Dingley (left) and Athlete Ciara Mageean during the Team Ireland official 2016 kit launch at the Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin
Emma Manley
Ellis O'Reilly, artistic gymnast, Ciara Mageean, runner, Katie Taylor, boxer, and Chloe Magee, Badminton, at the official launch of the Ireland Olympic kit for the Rio 2016 Olympics at Smock Alley in Dublin. Photo: Damien Eagers

Emma Manley and Marion Murphy Cooney have expressed their disappointment that an Irish designer was not chosen to create the Team Ireland kit for the Rio Olympics this summer.

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American brand New Balance is manufacturing the kit, which was launched on Tuesday.

“It’s a missed opportunity,” Manley told independent.ie. “I feel like a bit more thought could have gone into it. It’s not like there’s no production facilities here in Ireland.”

“We have the possibility and talent to do it here,” said Manley, whose designs are sold in Arnotts.

Irish Olympic team 2016 members (left-right) Ellis O'Reilly, Ciara Mageean, Katie Taylor and Chloe Magee during the Team Ireland official 2016 kit launch
Irish Olympic team 2016 members (left-right) Ellis O'Reilly, Ciara Mageean, Katie Taylor and Chloe Magee during the Team Ireland official 2016 kit launch

“It’s an opportunity to promote the designers, promote the manufactureras. People would want to wear the designs.”

“I’m not surprised, more disappointed. There was a missed opportunity there,” the Dublin native admitted.

Both designers noted how Team GB chose a collaboration between British designer Stella McCartney and global brand Adidas for their kit, a concept that could have been carried out in Ireland.

“Look at Team GB and what they did with Stella McCartney and Adidas,” said Marion Murphy Cooney.

Irish Olympic team 2016 members Diver Oliver Dingley (left) and Athlete Ciara Mageean during the Team Ireland official 2016 kit launch at the Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin
Irish Olympic team 2016 members Diver Oliver Dingley (left) and Athlete Ciara Mageean during the Team Ireland official 2016 kit launch at the Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin

“They could have gotten an Irish designer to collaborate. It would have been a win-win situation.”

“It’s a big slap in the face,” admitted the Limerick-born designer. “A lot of talented designers would have jumped at the chance. They could have run a competition in colleges or schools.”

“It’s great having such a huge company, don’t get me wrong. But it’s a bit flippant. It’s very insulting,” she said of the announcement.

“They didn’t look across the pond at Team GB. They could have quite easily involved an up and coming or established Irish designer,” she concluded.

Emma Manley
Emma Manley

However, the Olympic Council of Ireland said that the decision to use New Balance was nothing personal and merely a decision that was made to benefit the athletes.

“It was a question that came from the athletes,” a spokesman for the OCI said.

“The clothing is focused on performance, training and recovery - hence the collection with New Balance. There’s not much more to it really.”

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