Suni Lee is Headed to Paris—Here’s a Sneak Peek of What She’ll be Wearing

Ahead of the 2024 Summer Olympics, our Style Editor caught up with GK Elite to discuss their meticulous design process, from fit and function to rhinestones and rings

St. Paul native Sunisa (Suni) Lee waved to a sea of 16,300 fans as she ran onto the floor of Target Center Sunday evening, accepting her second Olympic berth in front of a hometown crowd. The reigning Olympic All-Around Champion put on a stunning show for her loyal Minnesota fans, with highlights including her gravity-defying uneven bars and her power-packed floor routine, both of which earned her emotional standing ovations.  

Joining Lee in Paris will be 37-time Olympic and World medalist Simone Biles (marking the first time in history that any gymnastics Olympic team has included two all-around champions), Olympic silver medalist Jordan Chiles, Olympic floor gold medalist Jade Carey, and two-time Junior World silver medalist Hezly Rivera.  

Suni Lee accepts her second Olympic berth at Target Center Sunday night

Photo by John Cheng and Allison Mott/USA Gymnastics

Clad in two different versions of the official Olympic Trials leotards by GK Elite, these athletes projected to the far corners of Target Center in rhinestone-studded, red-white-and-blue striped leotards, replicas of which are on sale now for fans to shop.  

Amid the excitement of trials week in Minneapolis (aka “Gymnastics City USA”) we got a chance to chat with GK Elite on their leotard design process for the event, which was, unsurprisingly, heavily guided by Swarovski crystals.  

“As we think about trials and the role it plays in these athletes’ Olympic journeys, we want them to feel their best, we want them to know that their leotard is going to fit, and that it’s going to aid in their performance,” shares Erica Schnebel, director of marketing at GK Elite. “But we also know that it’s important for them to start getting that team feel. They’re Olympic hopefuls, so we want them to start feeling that red, white, and blue mentality that Americana mentalityin the designs that we create.”  

As the official apparel provider for USA Gymnastics, Americana pride is an important ingredient in each of GK Elite’s designs. While they work closely with athletes on custom leotards throughout the season (including Jordan Chiles’ internet-breaking Beyoncé-inspired leotard), events like last week’s trials and the impending Olympics in Paris are when the design team really taps into a patriotic spirit, gunning for a glittering ensemble that the whole country can connect with and celebrate.  

Suni Lee celebrates after a flawless run on the uneven bars

Photo by John Cheng and Allison Mott/USA Gymnastics

Functionality is, of course, a key factor as well. Schnebel explained the importance of where certain style lines fall on the leotards to best highlight the athletes’ gymnastics abilities. GK would not condone, for example, styling the arms with long vertical lines, as it may distort the straightness of the athletes’ arms in key positions.  

The GK team, who has worked closely with Suni Lee on custom leotards, praises her ability to consider these factors when building designs alongside them. 

“Suni’s style, from a leotard perspective, tends to be very classic and clean. She really loves to hone in on things that will accentuate her lines and her gymnastics,” shares Schnebel. 

As an endorsed GK athlete, Lee aids in designing a full line of signature leotards each season, which include her actual signature and nod to her personal style. (No stranger to the world of high fashion, Lee recently modeled in the Team USA campaign for Kim Kardashian’s Skims). Lee’s summer leotard collection is available to shop online, as well as replicas of her custom GK leotards from past classics and championships.  

“She’s beautiful herself on the inside and out,” says Schnebel. “That’s really what we try to inject into her leotards, and just make sure that they feel like an extension of who she is and her personalitythe beauty that she brings to the sport of gymnastics.” 

Fans show support for hometown favorite Suni Lee at Target Center

Photo by John Cheng, Allison Mott/USA Gymnastics

It’s clear that gymnastic fans (especially those in Minnesota) feel the same way. Lee wore her heart on her crystal-studded sleeve Sunday night, unable to hold back tears as she waved to a standing hometown audience at the conclusion of her floor routine. As she packs her bags for Paris, GK Elite offered us a small teaser as to what Lee will be wearing on the sport’s biggest stage later this month.  

Similar to the official leotards for the trials, the Team USA Olympic leotard design (which will be unveiled to the public July 10) includes a bold red-white-and-blue color scheme with a generous layering of Swarovski crystals. But different from the leotards we saw last weekend, these will turn up the notch on glamour with subtle nods to the Olympics’ high fashion setting—Paris.  

“There are a ton of great tie-ins that allow us to draw inspiration from the city of Paris,” says Schnebel. “It’s the fashion capital of the world, the city of lights, so we really wanted to bring a high fashion sense to the leotards for these Games.” 

While Schnebel couldn’t reveal specific details before the launch date, she assures that these leotards are boundary pushing; fans can expect to see new embellishment styles and exclusive fabrics that will set them apart from previous designs.  

GK Elite’s official Olympic Trials leotards

Courtesy of GK Elite

With the 2020 Olympics being postponed and heavily restricted through the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Paris Games represent a special moment in sport—a holistic coming back together for athletes and fans alike. When asked if this affected GK’s design process, Schnebel felt it was certainly an underlying factor.  

“Being back to the quote, unquote, normal Olympics, which we all know Tokyo was not, really heightened that attention to detail. Like, ‘okay, how will this look all the way across the stands? When the camera crews are really close to the athletes, how will the leotard sparkle? How will they look to the person in the very top seat of the arena?’”  

This spirit of coming together was also the driver behind a unique decision for GK Elitefor the first time ever, replicas of Team USA’s leotards will be on sale prior to the actual Games, available for fans to shop as soon as July 10.  

GK encourages Team USA fans to grab the leotards ahead of time and wear them while they watch, allowing them to feel as though they are a part of history, whether they’re watching the Games from the City of Lights or from their living room couch.  

Be on the lookout for GK’s official Team USA launch to follow along with these five athletes, including hometown hero Suni Lee, on their journey to Paris.  

As Minnesota Monthly's Style Editor, Emma keeps a close pulse on all things retail, style, and fashion in the Twin Cities and beyond. Since graduating from Miami university in 2022 with degrees in English-Literature and Media and Culture, Emma has accumulated a wealth of experience in both the editorial and fashion industries, including producing a sold-out runway show for Fashion Week Minnesota. She harnesses this experience, as well as her passion for storytelling, to communicate the diverse perspectives of individuals who have helped shape the Minnesota fashion scene and its one-of-a-kind events, brands, and businesses. When she is not writing, you might find Emma at a yoga class, thrifting, walking her Bernese Mountain Dog, traveling, or drinking overpriced coffee. You will never see her in the same outfit twice.