May 6, 2021

Team Cayman Islands takes it back, 1930’s style

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13243683_1343979898951483_3589376562288728552_oTeam Cayman is going retro for the 2016 Olympic Games opening ceremony tonight, dating back to the 1930’s with a modern twist.

When the Rio Olympics kick off in few hours, the delegation of 11 will be wearing khaki pants, light blue shirts, thatch hats and boat shoes. The women will be in a navy blue dress with white floral detailing, thatch hats and espadrilles, taking it back almost eight decades to represent the Caymanian working class.

Local artist, Wray Banker envisoned the theme by pulling images and articles to come up with this year’s national dress, while Island Company sponsored and designed the team’s clothing.

“Cayman doesn’t really have a recognized national costume so I started doing research on it. We always seem to borrow other countries costumes, but it is getting better. We have started using our own language on invitations, t-shirts and now the Caymanian dictionaries.”

Known for its classicism and pastel colors, Island Company was approached by the Cayman Islands Olympic Committee (CIOC) with a sponsorship opportunity and a new vision.

“The goal for the team was to relate back to the original heritage and roots of the Cayman Islands,” says Spencer Antle, Island Company Creative Director and Founder. “The team selected Island Company as the best representation of this, while focusing on the laid-back style of the islands.”

“Island Company strongly supports the Cayman Islands and for the Cayman Olympic Team to approach Island Company for this involvement is a great honor,” Antle added.

Incorporating the Caymanian heritage with a contemporary feel, Banker used his historic archives, along with the CIOC they began colloborating with Island Company to design this year’s opening ceremony’s workman dress. Suggesting this was once Cayman’s dominant attire.

“Doing a national costume isn’t easy. When you look back to the old days, no one wore a formal blue jacket; it was the ‘Turtle Ranger’ outfits; khaki pants, a light blue shirt and a thatch hat.”

After all these years, the ‘Turtle Ranger’ outfit is still prominent today, as Banker sits in his light blue shirt and khaki hat, adding “it is still in our DNA. My friends and I always end up buying khaki and denim.”

Banker started working with the CIOC in 1992 for the Barcelona Olympics with a team of 10 competitors.

“When I got back from college, I helped the committee with the uniform and the pin. Everyone thought I was pretty bad at making the uniforms because I did them differently. I suggested an aqua blue jacket, instead of the conservative dark blue jacket and designed the tie, using the stars and waves.”

Banker then went on to make the pins for the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, winning third in the best pin around the world.

“[The pins] have always been a success,” Banker says graciously. “I think that has to do with the fact that we are small so it is a limited and rare collection. In Atlanta at the pin trading section, people kept stopping me and asking me about the pin, it took really off.”

With its success and popularity, the CIOC said it was an easy choice bringing it back 20-years later.

Modeling an antique rendering of the turtle from old drawings, Banker decided to simplify the pin by eliminating all colours and making it slightly larger than the rest.

“I wasn’t only designing an individual pin, I was designing it against the world and how it would match up. They had all these colours and we decided to go the other way, with metallic and gold. That really stood out.”

Banker highlights the importance of showing the world Cayman’s identity through our appearance on the world’s largest stage.

“We need to show who we are. Most countries have red, white and blue, so I had to find something that made us stand out. People may disagree with our Olympic uniform this year, but I think from the evidence of our people years ago, we chose the right outfits that truly represent Cayman.”

“I think we need to look at ourselves and appreciate who we are, it wasn’t this regal look. We were workers, we went on ships, we worked, worked, worked.”

Banker relishes on what was once Cayman, “every little bit of our Cayman history helps. I try to incorporate it into my artwork and into the Olympic outfits. We still have that old Caymanian at the core, but we have to continue to identify it and use it because we can still loose it.”

So, expect a sea of turtle rangers and their misses at 8pm BRT or 6pm EST at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games opening ceremony.

For more information and photos of Team Cayman at the 2016 Olympic Games, follow the Cayman Islands Olympic Committee on Facebook.

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