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Winter Olympics Uniforms

Client Descente. Canada, Switzerland, Spain, and Japan Olympic Committees
Product Racing Suits, Warm-up Gear
Medium Suits

Project Brief

Known the world over for their exceptional workmanship, quality and attention to detail, Descente was the original purveyor of high-tech ski apparel. The Japan-based company felt the 2002 Winter Olympics, an event happening only once every four years, would be the perfect opportunity to showcase not only their renowned technology, but also an innovative approach to the design of high-performance sportswear. They wanted to look outside the existing notions of sportswear design and knew they needed the fresh input of someone outside of the conventional fashion and sportswear design worlds. Descente’s goal was to find a design firm to bring power, intelligence and grace to sportswear design.


When Eiko Ishioka and Rafael Esquer began working on the racing wear, they suggested a thematic core for the designs based on an idea very representative of the 21st century: genetics. They visualized the genetic theme not simply in actual DNA strands, but in a much broader sense—through human musculature, place of origin and national identity, and nature. For example, Canada’s Alpine ski team’s suits feature “geographic DNA”: a list of all 44 team members’ hometowns running down the right arm and a list of over 600 Canadian cities running down the body. The largest cities by population run down the spine (the support system of the human body and the country). The front of the suits displays more cities, from the largest on top to smaller towns at the bottom.


After the warm up and immediately before the excitement and exertion of a race, there is that all-important moment of stillness and concentration for calming the spirit and focusing strength and determination. The design team explored ways to enhance this moment, with a garment to wrap the athlete in an environment of warmth and peace, in addition to designing the graphics for the racing suits.

The Ishioka/Esquer team produced one of the most celebrated Olympic suits in history. The collection positioned the client as the leader in sportswear design and manufacturing and the suits are part of the collection of the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Service Provided

Sports graphics
Uniform design

Spanish athlete at Winter Olympics, Salt Lake City 2002

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