Made in America: Outfitting Olympic Gymnasts

For over two decades, GK Elite has made bright, fun leotards for the world’s top Olympic gymnasts.

Based in Reading, Pennsylvania, GK Elite designs and manufactures gymnastics leotards for a dozen of countries.

From dazzling sequins embedded over bold colors to nude bodysuits embellished with crystals, the leotards worn by gymnasts during the Olympics are almost as fascinating as the Olympians that wear them. The garments have to be comfortable and flexible, while accentuating the movements of the athletes.

While you might assume these complex designs come from a French fashion house or a haute couture designer, a majority of these leotards are actually made by a 30-year-old apparel company based in Reading, Pennsylvania.

GK Elite Sportswear has designed and manufactured the leotards for the world’s top Olympic gymnasts for two decades. For the London Games at the end of the month,GK Elite produced uniforms for nine teams, including Russia, Britain, Greece, and, of course, Team U.S.A. “Gymnastics is one of the most watched sports during the Olympics,” says CEO Dan Casciano. “It always surprises people that a good number of those teams’ leotards are made right here in the U.S.A.”

The Best Kind of Marketing

It all began in 1989, when the then-8-year-old company inked its first deal with the U.S.A Gymnastics, the sport’s governing body, to supply the American national team with leotards. This led to the company’s debut Olympic leotards at the Barcelona Games in 1992, and soon other national teams approached GK Elite for leotards. By 2000, GK Elite was supplying dozens of countries with women and men’s leotards, and it also became the sole manufacturer of all adidas-branded national team gymnastics apparel.

Behind the scenes, the company spends years (yes, years) developing, designing, and manufacturing these high-profile uniforms.

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