Olympic Bling: A Look at the ‘Gem’ Studded Leotard Worn By The U.S. Gymnastics Team

With three full days of competition left at the thirty-first Olympiad, America continues to lead the overall medal count with 95 total, 32 of which are gold. The games have been action packed as always, especially during the prime time hours where we have all been treated to a high level of record shattering athleticism, not seen in the previous games.

Source: International Olympic Committee

Now that Michael Phelps has finished what was a stellar, story book ending to his Olympic career, all eyes turn to Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt as he attempts to become the first man to win three back to back gold medals in a row in the 200 meter final this evening.

Source: Getty Images

The U.S. Woman’s Gymnastic Team exit these Olympic games as one of the most decorated and accomplished in world competition history. The star of the games Simon Biles, superseded all expectations with a total of four gold medals, and one bronze.

Bile’s has won the hearts of Americans all over, and besides sweeping gold in all of her competitions with the exception of one, she gained another title, albeit unofficial, in the process: America’s new sweetheart.

One thing that struck me watching the woman’s gymnastics team compete, was the undeniable brilliance of the leotards they wore throughout their respective heats. I did some digging and found that what appeared to be the sparkle of gems emanating from their uniforms, actually turned out to be swarovski crystals. Expensive swavorksi crystals that is.

Source: Getty Images

Do not let the Under Armour logo fool you on team USA’s uniforms because according to CNN, each was custom fitted with a generous helping of 3,000 to 5,000 swarovksi crystals.The uniforms were designed, and made by GK Elite, a Gymnastics outfitter based out of Reading, Pennsylvania, under license by rising apparel giant Under Armour.

Source: Getty Images

Kelly McKeown, GK Elites corporate relations manager told CNN that the company has been making leotards for the U.S. Gymnastics team since the 1996 games. The leotards of that day were very difficult to make as each had to be custom made by hand. McKeow told the cable news network,

“We didn’t have the technology for (the crystals) to be applied. We used to do a lot of hand application. It was so labor intensive.”

Advancements in technology have made things much easier, as GK Elite has a robot that handles all the sowing, stitching and placements of the delicate, expensive crystals on each custom made uniform.

McKeown adds,

“Now we can do incredible, much more intricate design work.”

Source: Getty Images

To the naked eye, the construction and design of the USA Olympic gymnastic leotard might not look like much, however, it is nothing less than state of the art. The ensembles are made with a high tech fabric that is engineered to stay in place as the gymnast do intense flips, especially during the balancing beams, and floor routine exercises.

Source: Getty Images

McKewon concluded that the uniforms this year were hyper-embellished to honor and pay tribute to long time coach Martha Karolyi, who is retiring this year after a remarkable 44 year run.

Source: Getty Images

McKewon wouldn’t go into specific detail of what a spectacular creation like this would cost, however, experts believe that with just the crystals alone, each one of these unique, one of a kind pieces could fetch anywhere between $700 to $1,200 a piece.

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