Technically, the Burton U.S.A. Olympic team uniform is top of the line, but design-wise, it has limited amplitude.

While we’re very glad that Burton landed the contract to produce the official U.S.A. team snowboarding uniforms for the upcoming Olympic Games in Vancouver in February, 2010, the new team uniforms unfortunately take a major step backwards for the USA from a fashion and style standpoint. With all due respect to Burton, a brand that’s been a leader in creating and perpetuating the sport of snowboarding, the absolute horrid Pantone choices for the requisite red, white and blue, the plaid jackets, and pseudo ripped/washed denim snowboard pants, while probably incredible in terms of Gore-tex laden outerwear, is a serious fashion fauxpas and a black mark for our nation -fashionably speaking.

As an American snowboarder, I feel I have the right to say this: It’s a damn embarrassment, and a damn shame. Especially considering we invented the sport of snowboarding and are known for sweeping the medals and taking claim of Olympic glory through this sport. It should be our time to shine -and in progressively designed gear, or godsake. Instead, we’ll be a podium full of lumberjacks. Maybe it’s cool to look like a lumberjack, and even practical to wear such garb…in Forks.

So what happened? “Since its inception, Burton has been a rider driven company,” said Jake Burton, Founder and Chairman of Burton Snowboards. “For the creation of the US Snowboard Team uniform, we listened carefully to the riders’ needs and used their input to ensure that the final fit, fabrics and overall design would maximize their performances and take these riders to the podium. It was also absolutely critical to ensure these Olympic uniforms were worthy of bearing the Burton name.”

Here’s the rub: The style including color and design simply isn’t worthy of bearing any name other than maybe Woolrich circa 1933. And it’s especially not worthy for the U.S.A. Olympic Snowboard Team. It’s doubtful that even a rockstar, media-savvy snowboarder/skater such as Shaun White will look cool in this get-up. And what about the women? Poor Elena Hight. I mean, seriously. Did they not think of the women?

They got the silouette right. But that%uFFFDs about it.

While I appreciate that Burton looks to their team riders and in this case, Olympic hopefuls, for insight, which is a good idea for technical features, when it comes to aesthetics it’s not a very wise plan. Nothing against Mason Aquirre and Kevin Pearce, but neither guy is all that fashion-forward. And Burton, may I speak directly to you if you’re reading this, “You’ve been down this road before!”

During the ISPO Conference in Munich in 2005, I was a speaker right before Jake Burton Carpenter and Donna Carpenter, and I heard them admit that they missed the whole aesthetic-thing when it came to bindings. That consumers wanted bindings that looked good, possibly color-coordinated with their board or pants -and since Burton tends to listen to team riders (way too much) they learned a lesson that pros don’t know as much about style as they do about function. The disconnect resulted in lost dollars in binding sales. At the time, that was a big deal.

But this is a bigger deal. A national issue. An issue beyond fashion with implications that reverberate through sport. This is a missed opportunity to show our style as USA snowboarders on a global level. To give our sport more legitimacy in the face of an Olympic system that still doesn’t “get” us. What you design reflects on us all. That’s why I’m pissed (and I’m not the only one).

Burton should have checked-out what 686 did, which was a faux-denim snowboard pant done right.

One more thing, that whole heritage trend of buffalo plaids and fades? It’s so 2008. Sure, some streetwear brands will still be rockin’ it in 2010, but the more progressive labels are already adding bits of nu rave, neon, diversity of fabrics and a retro yet progressive style that looks altogether new with hints of d%uFFFDj%uFFFD vu. Not a full-on Grandpa Walton look. If you’re going to go the heritage route, look for designers that are taking it to new levels for inspiration. Mix it up with 10 Deep and Nikita in terms of spectrums. Add some Marc Jacobs. Even Levi’s, a classic American brand if ever there was one, could lend some design inspiration to the mix, especially the collaboration with 686–who actually did that whole snowboarding-pant-denim thing right. Then, to really show our nation’s gold-medal capabilities of creating something new from a melting pot of cultures, add progressive Japanese influences from the likes of Hiroshi Fujiwara or Rei Kawakubo.

The final kicker to this whole USA team uniform debacle is that Burton is also supplying the Chinese and Finnish team uniforms. May I say to both nations, I’m so very sorry.

Simply cannot imagine Shaun White%uFFFDs face imposed here.

Cool rips and burn holes! How retro-used-Americana! (Kidding.)

Men%uFFFDs U.S.A. Team jacket. Nothing to say, here.