Cheeky take on Singapore's outfit

The polo T-shirt that Olympic gold medallist Joseph Schooling (below) is wearing is designed by Singapore Yonex distributor Sunrise & Company. Team Singapore swimmer Nur Marina Chan and sprinter Lee Cheng Wei (both above) in the redesigned attire. Th
Team Singapore swimmer Nur Marina Chan and sprinter Lee Cheng Wei (both above) in the redesigned attire. Their scarf and tie are a 2015 design - the 2016 version features a more muted colour palette of dark blue and red design. PHOTO: TIFFANY GOH FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
The polo T-shirt that Olympic gold medallist Joseph Schooling (above) is wearing is designed by Singapore Yonex distributor Sunrise & Company.
The polo T-shirt that Olympic gold medallist Joseph Schooling (above) is wearing is designed by Singapore Yonex distributor Sunrise & Company. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Since landing at Changi Airport on Monday, Olympic gold medallist Joseph Schooling has been seen many times in his Team Singapore attire, which has made Singapore designer Esther Tay immensely proud.

She designed the red blazer and latte-coloured pants worn by the Singapore athletes at the Rio Olympics opening ceremony and official sporting events.

"I'm so, so proud of him. I'm so happy that we actually attired him when he made history," says the managing and creative director of corporate-wear tailor Esta.

She first designed the Team Singapore formal attire in 2001 and was approached by the Singapore National Olympic Council last year to update the design to make it "look more trendy".

The blazer, pants and cotton Oxford shirt now have a slimmer cut and better fabric- the pants are made of a polyester-rayon fabric with spandex for better mobility.

The red blazer also has an embroidered Singapore crest. Better still, there is a new "secret" inner pocket crafted for medals, with tongue-in-cheek instructions to "kiss" and "bite" the medal.

Adds Ms Tay, who declines to reveal her age: "Previously, the athletes were not too keen on donning the classic and regular cuts of the blazer and pants, but now they are much happier with the redesign."

And just for this year's Olympics, men's ties and women's scarves with symbols of the various Olympic sports have been updated with a more muted colour palette of dark blue and red. Athletes also have their names embroidered on their tie or scarf with the phrase: "I made it to Rio 2016."

Athletic attire such as tracksuits, parkas, polo T-shirts and shorts are designed by Singapore Yonex distributor Sunrise & Company. Its in-house design team is headed by design and product development chief Ashley Wong.

Says Ms Wong, who is in her 30s: "We are very stringent in our use of fabric. We have moisture-wicking technology to dissipate sweat quickly and the material is lightweight, breathable and fast- drying for comfort."

While the designs need to be approved by the council, some of the Team Singapore athletes sat in for a few design meetings and gave suggestions such as having bigger haversacks for their towels and bathrobes, she says.

Like American swimming legend Michael Phelps, whose Arena-designed knee-length parka in flag blue will be on sale, the Singapore team's tracksuits, polo T-shirts and shorts can be purchased online (www.sunriseclick.com). The company is not ready to reveal the prices of the apparel or when they will go on sale.

This year marks the 43rd year that Sunrise & Company has partnered with the council to sponsor Singapore athletes with Yonex-branded apparel - the partnership will continue until the 2020 Olympics.

Athletes need not wait till the next Olympics for new designs. Ms Wong says the company tries to refresh its designs every two years. She adds: "But the Olympics will definitely have a totally different and fresh design."

Alyssa Woo

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 18, 2016, with the headline 'Cheeky take on Singapore's outfit'. Print Edition | Subscribe