Spanish Olympic water polo player Roser Tarrago says the Bosco di Ciliegi ankle-length dress she’ll wear at the London Games opening ceremony today was last in fashion 50 years ago.
“Maybe I will give it to my grandmother afterwards,” Tarrago, 19, said yesterday of the Russian clothing maker’s garment. Spain’s El Pais newspaper said in a July 20 column that only a “veteran LSD addict with sunglasses” could bear to look at one of Spain’s paisley-style polo shirts.
Bosco di Ciliegi, the apparel provider of the Russian Olympic team since 2002, is struggling to win over some Spaniards as it goes head-to-head with the U.S.’s outfitter Ralph Lauren Corp. and Italy’s Giorgio Armani SpA. More than 1 billion people will watch the opening ceremony, according to U.K. tourism agency Visit Britain.
Bosco founder Mikhail Kusnirovich is using the London Games to target customers outside Russia, and said such criticism by athletes only serves to promote his brand.
“Spanish people will be at the cash tills to buy our clothes,” Kusnirovich said in an interview yesterday. “I understand that for some Spanish fans they are unusual designs but we have to be recognized very fast -- you only have a few seconds on TV.”
Bosco, which was founded in 1991, has annual sales of 600 million euros ($737 million). The company also supplies the Ukraine team with its uniforms, and in 2009 agreed to pay as much as $100 million to be the official clothing supplier of the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.
Bosco’s Spanish team designs are influenced by Catalan architect Gaudi and Spain’s Moorish era, company literature says. The Spanish Association of Fashion Designers criticized the designs in May when Bosco released pictures of the uniforms, which were distributed to athletes as recently as last week.
Ona Meseguer, a Spanish water polo player, says she’d prefer a more conservative style like those favored by Armani or Ralph Lauren to Bosco’s flashier creations.
“It might suit the Russians and Ukrainian athletes, but not us,” Meseguer, 24, said.
To be sure, gymnastics coach Jesus Carballo says he’s a fan of one of Bosco’s simpler garments: a bright red polo jersey with yellow trim.
“This is the red that the Spanish soccer team has made famous,” Carballo said as he wore the shirt yesterday. “I like it.”
Bosco has opened its first two stores in London to coincide with the Games and is renting out a 19th-century building off the upscale Pall Mall to entertain guests.
On the stairway, there were three mannequins yesterday in the tracksuits that Spanish, Russian and Ukrainian athletes are contracted to wear if they win a medal, Kusnirovich said.
“When these guys are on the podium, we don’t want them to go unnoticed,” he said.
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