Australian Olympic team uniform, 1936 Olympic Games, W.G. Cross, Australian eights rowing crew, shirt made by Lowes, cap and Blazer made by Farmer & Co., c.1936
Australia formed a modest and relatively unsuccessful Olympic team of thirty-three athletes for the 1936 Berlin Games. Its Eights Rowing crew of Australian policemen performed poorly, finishing fourth in the heats and second in the repechage - a trial heat providing competitors with a second chance to qualify for the semi-finals. W.G. Cross was fifth member of the Eights Rowing crew, and part of his ceremonial Olympic uniform is now in the Sydney 2000 Games Collection.
The Australian Olympic team uniform remained virtually unchanged throughout the 1920s and 1930s, and reflected the current fashion for tailored yet comfortable garments. Male athletes wore white trousers and a white shirt, a green blazer and cap, and a green and gold striped tie. The Australian coat of arms featured prominently on both the cap and blazer. Female athletes wore a similar uniform though with a white pleated skirt and either a white cloche or rimmed hat. Minor variations became apparent in later uniforms, including the 1936 uniform, with the addition of a men's v-neck jumper, loose-fitting cuffed trousers, and two-tone shoes for both male and female athletes.
Though the remaining Cross uniform is incomplete (the trousers, v- neck jumper and two-tone shoes are missing), it continues to reflect the mixture of formality and comfort that defined 1930s fashion. Its v-neck jumper and casual trousers were acceptable fashion items by this time, and commonly part of day suits and official uniforms. This comfortable, ready-to-wear style remained popular in Europe, America and Australia until after the Second World War.
By 1936, public interest in the Australian Olympic team was high though official team funding was low, forcing athletes to pay for virtually all of their own uniform. The Australian Olympic Federation, the official body that preceded the Australian Olympic Committee, subsidised only the team blazers, and required athletes to purchase the remaining garments from local retail stores. Consequently, Cross and other members of the 1936 Olympic team purchased white shirts from Lowes, and the caps and funded blazers from Farmer & Co., Sydney.
The remaining Cross uniform reflects the 1930s style in day suites and Olympic team uniforms. Its references to Australia, through national colours and the coat of arms, are minor in comparison to much later Olympic uniforms, including the 2000 Australian team uniform also in the Sydney 2000 Games Collection. This later uniform symbolises Australia in most elements of its design. The distinction between the two uniforms is partly attributable to the appointment of an Australian Olympic uniform designer in the mid 1970s when team uniforms increasingly promoted a unique Australian culture. It is also the result of increased interest in all aspects of the Olympic Games, including the teams themselves and their uniforms.
Shirt made by Lowes, Australia c. 1936. Blazer and cap made by Farmer's, Australia c. 1936.
Used by W.G. Cross at the 1936 Olympic Games.
Donated to John Moore, SOCOG Marketing Manager, and donated by SOCOG to the Powerhouse Museum after the Sydney 2000 Games.