A brand that has dominated the sports apparel market for as long as Nike knows that they must stay ahead of the curve creatively when it comes to designing fresh and relevant kit. Being cutting-edge comes with risks however, with some observers feeling that their latest iteration of the 2024 Team USA Female Uniform track and field for women is simply too revealing.

Fashion is a matter of taste, and Nike is still trying to justify itself creatively having been roundly criticized for it’s reimagining of the St. George flag on the new England soccer team jersey, but the companies latest storm centers around more than a mere choice of colors, with some athletes and observers calling the new Team USA kit sexist and too revealing. The tricky track and field set was first shown at the Nike On Air event on April 11 and 2-weeks later, the debate is still raging.

“When we listen to the voice of the athlete, anything is possible,” commented the ‘Just Do It’ brand in a caption that accompanied an Instagram announcement. “The world’s best competitors lit up the stage at our Nike On Air Event in Paris, a testament to the inspiration at the heart of every Nike innovation.” Indeed, on stage to model these new threads were track legends Sha’Carri Richardson, Noah Lyles and others. But not everyone appeared to be as excited as those people in Paris.

The argument majorly erupted when a photo of the women’s kit, displayed on a mannequin and published by Citius Mag, seemed to show minimal material around the pelvic area, leaving some athletes concerned that that they would be over exposed. Lauren Fleshman (2-time US national champion in the 5000m) took to Instagram to share her views:

“I’m sorry, but show me one WNBA or NWSL team who would enthusiastically support this kit,” typed the athlete. “This is for Olympic Track and Field. Professional athletes should be able to compete without dedicating brain space to constant pube vigilance or the mental gymnastics of having every vulnerable piece of your body on display. Women’s kits should be in service to performance, mentally and physically. If this outfit was truly beneficial to physical performance, men would wear it.” Tara Davis-Woodhall, summarized her own fears in just a few words. “Wait, my hoo haa is gonna be out,” quipped the long jump athlete.

Nike’s Response to the 2024 Team USA Female Uniform Controversy

In an email to Reuters, Nike have explained they are also offering unitard options with both briefs, and shorts. This would appear to be going further than the Tokyo games, where there were no shorts options. A spokesperson for USA Track & Field has also provided a view, commenting; “Athlete options and choices were the driving force for USATF in the planning process with Nike.”

It should also perhaps be noted that the more controversial pieces of kit are from a selection of almost 50 possible garments across specific events, and not everyone is offended by the new gear. Nike sponsored pole vaulter, Kaite Moon has commented in part on X; “We DO have the men’s option available to us if we want it. When you attack the buns and crop top saying something along the lines of ‘it’s sexist’ (which is that was our only choice, it would be), even if it’s with the best of intentions, you’re ultimately attacking the decision of women to wear it.” The 2024 Paris Olympic Games are set to begin on July 26.