TOKYO — Uniqlo has extended its sponsorship agreement with the Swedish Olympic and Paralympic Committees for an additional two years, through the end of 2024. This means the Japanese brand will provide official clothing for the Scandinavian country’s Olympic and Paralympic teams not only for the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing, but also for the 2024 Summer Games in Paris.
Uniqlo first signed on as official clothing partner for the Swedish Olympic and Paralympic teams from January 2019, and athletes wore uniforms and gear developed by the company during the recent Tokyo Games. The original agreement was scheduled to expire at the end of 2022. During the two-year extended period, Uniqlo will “provide apparel for the requirements of athletes at international sporting events, including travel, training and media appearances, as well as opening, closing and medal ceremonies, and some in-competition wear,” according to a statement.
Koji Yanai, a group senior executive officer for Uniqlo’s parent company Fast Retailing, has been closely involved in the partnership with the Swedish Olympic and Paralympic Committees. (He is also the son of the company’s chairman, president and chief executive officer Tadashi Yanai.) He said the offer to extend the agreement came from the Swedish side.
“Fortunately, they appreciate our efforts [for] this Summer Olympic Games,” Yanai said. “That offer is a kind of proof that Uniqlo and [its] team members did a great job for them. If they were not comfortable with our clothing in this summer’s Olympic Games, they would not want to extend the contract with us, so it’s a very great evaluation for us.”
Yanai said Uniqlo received lots of positive feedback from the athletes in the Summer Games, especially in regard to the very precise sizing and measurements of the garments. They also appreciated the company’s flexibility in swapping out certain pieces for others once the athletes arrived in Tokyo and came to grips with the reality of Japan’s sweltering summer heat and humidity.
For next year’s Winter Games in Beijing, Uniqlo is developing official uniforms based on three general concepts chosen by the Swedish committees: quality, innovation and sustainability. Yanai said this is an opportunity for the company to deliver a message of sustainability — something it has been focusing on more in recent years — to the global community. Uniqlo will also utilize some of its existing technologies, such as Heattech and Ultra Light Down, for the official apparel.
For the 2024 Paris Summer Games, Yanai said sports added to the program that did not appear on the Tokyo schedule, including break dancing, will require the company to develop new uniforms that specifically cater to the unique needs of those athletes. Yanai said that thanks to the company’s experience with the Tokyo Games, as well as over a decade of knowledge and experience gained from working with elite athletes as part of its global brand ambassador program, Uniqlo is sensitive to the performance of its clothing and looks forward to new challenges.
As for the benefits of being a main sponsor for Sweden’s Olympic and Paralympic teams, Yanai said Uniqlo’s brand recognition has grown in the country since the Tokyo Games. Uniqlo counts just three stores in the Scandinavian nation, home to fast-fashion giant H&M.
“In particular, the Swedish women’s soccer team got the silver medal and their popularity in Sweden is big, so thanks to their performance or achievements, many customers are inquiring about the women’s soccer uniform in the stores in Sweden,” the executive said.