Olympic Gymnasts’ Gem-Studded Uniforms Come with Dazzling Price Tag

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 09:  (L to R) Madison Kocian, Gabrielle Douglas, Simone Biles, Alexandra Raisman and Lauren Hernandez of the United States wait for the final result during the Artistic Gymnastics Women's Team Final on Day 4 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Rio Olympic Arena on August 9, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Alexandra Raisman, Gabrielle Douglas, Simone Biles, Madison Kocian, and Lauren Hernandez of the United States wait for the final result during the Artistic Gymnastics Women’s Team Final on Day 4 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

NEW YORK  — The U.S. Olympic gymnastics team in Rio this year is sporting its flashiest — and priciest — uniforms ever.

Each member of the “Final Five” has eight custom-fitted competition leotards decorated with 3,500 to 5,000 swarovski crystals — and the uniforms cost between $700 and $1,200 a piece.

Only one of the leotards the 2012 Olympic team wore included anywhere near that level of embellishment.

Don’t let the Under Armour logo on the leotards mislead you. The mastermind behind the dazzling costumes is a company called GK Elite, a gymnastics outfitter based in Pennsylvania, which has a contract to produce the uniforms with Under Armour.

GK Elite’s Kelly McKeown has designed the U.S.’s Olympic uniforms since the Atlanta games in 1996. Back then, the uniforms were a bit more bland.

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

Today, it’s a different story. GK Elite has a machine with robotic arms that does all the embellishing.

“Now we can do incredible, intricate designs,” McKeown said.

Other modern features of the ensembles include a high-tech fabric that’s designed to stay in place even while the athletes run and flip.

She added that one reason the 2016 uniforms are hyper-embellished is to honor coach Martha Karolyi, who’s retiring this year after 44 years coaching the U.S. Olympic team.

Then there’s the sheer star power of the athletes who wear them. The U.S. women’s team was widely expected to dominate in Rio, and on Tuesday the team delivered by winning gold in the team all-around competition.

Fans will get to see more of McKeown’s creations on Simone Biles and Aly Raisman when they compete in the individual all-around. It airs Thursday at 3 pm ET.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.