Olympic kit to put designer on map after public vote

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BARBARA COLE

DURBAN designer Leigh Schubert is going global. Billions of people will see her work when Team SA walk into London’s Olympic Stadium at the opening ceremony of the Games on July 27.

Schubert has won the competition to design the team’s opening ceremony kit, beating 19 other competitors from around the country.

When the 112 SA athletes join the opening parade and fly the flag, watched by billions of viewers around the world, Schubert will be there to see them, enjoying her design-winning prize of an all-expenses-paid trip to London to see the ceremony.

Her winning designs were unveiled by the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) in Joburg yesterday.

Sascoc recently came in for criticism from the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union for choosing a foreign manufacturer to make the team’s general-use kit.

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But Sascoc president Gideon Sam said the Chinese manufacturer, Erke, had provided a $4 million (R33m) sponsorship, which no SA company had been prepared to do.

However, the special opening-ceremony outfits would be wholly made in SA, Schubert said this week.

“I’m ecstatic. This is an amazing thing for me, as countries around the world have had their opening ceremony outfits designed by the likes of Ralph Lauren for the US and Stella McCartney for the UK. These are amazing international brands, and for me to represent South Africa is incredible,” she said.

As one of the country’s top designers, Schubert was shortlisted by the athletes themselves, and was told by Sascoc that the committee wanted to “make South Africans proud of the garments Team SA wear when they walk into the stadium”.

The top six shortlisted finalists’ ideas were submitted to an online magazine vote – and Schubert was declared the winner.

She only learnt of her win last week and had less than a week to come up with prototypes for yesterday’s media launch.

“I really wanted something nice and strong and bright for when the team comes out into the stadium.

“I want Team SA to stand out and I think they will,” she said.

Schubert might be a well-known name in fashion circles, but she said this was an opportunity to show her brand to people who did not go to fashion shows or read glossy magazines. “And it is nice to win a competition that people have judged. That makes me even more chuffed.”

The styles of the kit are different for men and women and will be sported with black trousers, and “as a touch of humour” with the trendy African-style Converse sneakers. “The brief was that the kits had to be comfortable, but I did not want them looking like farmers or as if they were about to play lawn bowls,” she said. “And I did not want them wearing green Crocs as once before.”


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