I am digressing from my usual missives on strictly retail subjects a bit for two reasons:
1) It seems that everyone else around the world is digressing from other things to watch the glorious Olympic Games from Beijing, so why can’t I?
2) I feel compelled to comment on what I saw at the opening ceremonies on Friday night.
The opening ceremonies were absolutely breathtaking and brilliantly creative. Dramatic, acrobatic, synchronized and sensational are words that come to mind. They were truly one of a kind scenes from a one of a kind Olympic site as China makes history once again.
These ceremonies were 5000 years in the making and surpassed all expectations by miles. It is in this setting that I felt great embarrassment and disappointment when the Parade of Nations began.
I am no “fashionista”, but when Canada walked into the stadium after having witnessed the opening drummers, movable type staging and beautiful symbolism and elegance, I felt sick to my stomach. I was embarrassed to be Canadian. The Roots outfits were one thing over the past decade or so, but now that it had moved to The Bay, I guess I thought we would take it more seriously. It was a joke. Other countries paraded around either in suits or traditional wardrobes indigenous to their regions and people. Ralph Lauren did an admirable job with the Americans (although I expected a bit more as well). But short sleeved printed zip up performance tops for an Olympic Games Opening Ceremony in Beijing, China? Are you kidding me?
The Turks wore suits. The Chinese were resplendent in their national flag colours differentiated between men and women. The Canadians looked like asexual gym rats ready to hop on their bikes and pedal down the street. The printing was a weird font which wasn’t eminently legible. There was absolutely no style or creativity prevalent at all.
Not only that, the collections in the stores are severely lacking. Now I know why. There is no sense of fashion, occasion or pride in what the Canadian team wore in that Parade of Nations nor in the collection in the stores that Canadians are supposed to be enticed into buying.
Would it have been too much to ask for the Canadians to be wearing some type of co-ordinated outfit (either a suit with a cool red and white shirt – possibly red background with white maple leafs printed all over it – or a red blazer with great looking khaki pants or skirts and a cool striped polo shirt)? I was crushed.
These games may turn out to be a turning point in China’s history, even in world history. Michael Phelps will probably make Olympic history as well. With Canada being the next host of the Olympic games in 2010, I can only pray that we wake up and make amends so as not to embarrass ourselves in front of our own home crowd in Vancouver.