The whole world is preparing for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Athletes have to be ready physically to compete, but also ready to represent their countries. Many countries have presented their team uniforms for the Parade of Nations -- including Georgia. But many in Georgia don’t like the Georgian team’s uniforms. People were writing in social media that the uniforms don’t reflect Georgian national clothes, and that they have no taste, are old-fashioned, and not sporty. The uniforms were designed by Samoseli Pirveli, which specializes in Georgian national costumes, and is owned by millionaire and polarizing public figure Levan Vasadze.
The president of Georgia’s Olympic Committee, Leri Khabelov, explained to MySports.ge why they chose Samoseli Pirveli: “We wanted costumes that would showcase Georgian national ornaments, and Samoseli Pirveli was the right fit. I think the men and women’s uniforms look great and look forward to seeing them at the Parade of Nations.”
The leader of the GD parliamentary majority group, Zviad Kvachantiradze, expressed an opposing opinion on his Facebook page: “We were upset by the photos that were released -- not a single one of the athletes was smiling. Maybe because it was too hot. But the Olympic uniforms should be original, young -- and sexy. After all, we have so many great designers all around the world. I don’t care who made this abominable uniforms. They’ve made us into a laughing stock in front of the whole world. Is there a way to resolve this disgraceful error?”
Samoseli Pirveli spoke about the uniforms following the backlash: “People have criticized that the costumes look Central Asian. Unfortunately, the Soviet Union distanced us from our culture so much that traditional Georgian styles now seem foreign for us. The women’s clothes reflect the late medieval style in Georgia, called “Elegi.” It was mainly worn in Western Georgia and it was made of silk and velvet. Elegi had ornaments on the sleeves and edges of the clothing. You can see numerous good samples of Elegi in the national museum.”
Samoseli Pirveli was commissioned to make the uniforms without a competition tender. Marika Kirvalidze, the head of the Public Relations of the Georgian Olympic Committee, explained that Samoseli Pirveli is a non-profit organization and so they were not obliged to announce a tender. Samoseli Pirveli was personally chosen by the Vice President of the Georgian Olympic Committee, but the Georgian athletes were also able to see the design sketches, and gave their approval. Each uniform cost 1,000 GEL; 80 costumes were made in total.