Published on: September 29, 2016
Ever wonder what inspired the uniforms of Olympians? Why the design is as it is? We sat down with Emily Knight, who oversees volleyball gear at Mizuno to get a behind-the-scenes look at the suit donned by Mizuno ambassador, April Ross, in her debut Olympic match.
How long has Mizuno been working with April Ross?
Mizuno decided to enter the beach volleyball market in the U.S. after the success of the 2012 London Olympics. April was my top pick from the start. Not only is she a fantastic player, but she is a deep thinker that is dedicated to her craft and the growth of the sport.
When did the design process for the 2016 Olympic uniforms start?
The process to design uniforms for the national teams is pretty intense, and begins nearly two years prior to the Games. Our original for the beach volleyball uniforms was to use existing styles but April and her partner, Kerri Walsh Jennings, had other ideas.
What other ideas did April have for their Olympic uniforms?
April has been instrumental in helping us create our beach volleyball gear since we launched in 2013. It was natural for conversations to head toward her involvement designing the uniform for Rio – they knew what they wanted. Fast forward to February 2016, April got things started …
“So this is just a VERY rough idea of what we are thinking. And know that it might not pan out, but it’d be cool to have something kind of unique…
The main idea is high neck and cool back. And a little longer in front than normal even though it doesn’t look like it in some of the pics.
This process normally takes from 18-24 months, and you had six months. How did you pull this off?
I’m not going to lie. It was a tough challenge to execute a very high-performing garment in six months, but we have an amazing design team at Mizuno and knew we needed to deliver for April. And, if we did not try we had no chance of success. From that day on our design room became somewhat of a war room.
Many late nights and fit sessions later, we were able to hand-deliver the completed suits to the duo one-day before heading to Rio.
Inspired by the journey to build and design the beach top, it has been aptly named the Odyssey High Neck Top, and will be available in March 2017 on mizunousa.com. An added note, Knight played at University of Southern California alongside April Ross where they were “road roomies” for three years.