Correspondent at Large Louise Evans goes hunting for a stylish Olympic souvenir in Paris but leaves empty handed and uninspired.
It might be one of the fashion capitals of the world but the excitement of shopping in the French capital evaporates the minute you walk into the 2024 Olympic souvenir store.
There’s not a whiff of style, elegance or sophistication inside one of only two official stores opened in Paris so far – at the Louvre Carrousel hidden under the Louvre on the Rue de Rivoli.
There’s no French fashion flair. No Parisienne pizazz.
Instead, the shelves are stacked with the same old overpriced Games merchandise that has been sold for decades – a gaudy collection of key rings, caps, T-shirts, pins, badges and the obligatory weird mascot.
There’s no nod whatsoever to the great Paris designers and some of the biggest names in haute couture including Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Louis Vuitton, or Jean-Paul Gaultier who made the French capital one of the world’s great fashion capitals.
French sports brand Le Coq Sportif has teamed up with Games organisers to produce a clothing range but even this is a last-century collection of T-shirts, polo shirts, sweatshirts, jackets and trousers in blue, white and pink.
How about a stunning scarf?
A smart tie?
There’s no wow factor in the range of 2024 Olympic merchandise on sale so far.
What’s more, only two of the many T-shirt styles available in the Louvre Olympic store came in women’s sizes, with the rest being unisex – which means they fit females like a paperbag.
When asked if there was more merchandise and women’s sizes in the Games merchandise pipeline – the shop assistant merely shrugs his shoulders and points you to the piles of Olympic-branded key rings for $A14, coffee cups for $A20 each, T-shirts $A45 and caps $A34.
The Paris 2024 Organising Committee is hoping to make €2 billion ($A3.4 billion) from its retail outlets, but the day Sportshounds visited the Louvre store there were few shoppers and even fewer sales.
Elsewhere across Paris the start of the 2024 Olympics in less than a year’s time seems to be a well-kept secret.
There’s no public signs or banners declaring that the French capital will become the focus of world sport in August next year.
Sportshounds found only one Olympic-esque sign – on the Champs Elysees – advertising a festival of free summer events currently occurring in Paris that combine art, sport and the Olympics.
Judging by the Paris 2024 merchandise and public branding on display so far, the countdown to the Games has made a slow start.
Louise Evans is an award-winning journalist who has worked around Australia and the world as a reporter, foreign correspondent, editor and media executive for media platforms including The Sydney Morning Herald (eight years), The Australian (11 years) and Australian Associated Press (six years in London, Beijing and Sydney).
A women sports’ pioneer, Louise was the first female sports journalist employed by The Sydney Morning Herald and the first female sports editor at The Australian. Louise went on to work at six Olympic Games, six Commonwealth Games and numerous world sporting championships and grand slam tennis events.
Louise is the Founding Editor of AAP FactCheck, the Creator of #WISPAA – Women in Sport Photo Action Awards and national touring Exhibition and the author and producer of the Passage to Pusan book, documentary and exhibition.
In 2019 she was awarded the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) Queen’s Honour for services to the media and sport and named an Australian Financial Review Top 100 Woman of Influence for services to the arts, culture and sport.
In 2020 she won a NSW Volunteer of the Year Award plus the NSW Government Community Service Award for her women-in-sport advocacy work.