Clothier Ralph Lauren has been known for decades as a designer who creates iconic “All-American” looks. No doubt that was part of the appeal when the company was selected by the U.S. Olympic Committee to supply the uniforms for the London Games. He’s been designing America’s Olympic team uniforms since the 2008 Beijing Games and has an apparel contract with the USOC through 2020.
The uniforms for Opening Ceremony include a blue blazer, cream-colored pants for men and skirts for women and a blue beret with red and white stripes. Quite All-American. Well, almost. There is one wrinkle in this All-American tie-up. The uniforms are made in China.
Yes, 530 American athletes will march into the London Games wearing duds made in China.
It is a huge slip-up. Outsourcing clothing manufacturing to Asia is a common practice in the rag business, but when you’re an American company, hired because of your iconic American brand status, and are clothing American athletes representing America, having a “made in China” label is just simply a major screw-up.
The issue was brought up in Congress, which criticized the U.S. Olympic Committee for letting this happen. And now Ralph Lauren has announced that future uniforms will be made in the U.S.A.
“We are absolutely committed, however, to working with our sponsors to ensure that the concerns voiced are addressed. To that end, Ralph Lauren has agreed to domestically manufacture Team USA's apparel for Opening and Closing Ceremonies for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games."
"Ralph Lauren promises to lead the conversation within our industry and our government to address the issue to increase manufacturing in the United States," the company said in a statement.
"When America's best athletes are representing our country on the world stage, we should be representing the best of American-made goods," Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said in a statement, "The pride of our Olympic athletics goes hand in hand with the pride of American innovation and manufacturing. While I am greatly disappointed our athletes will not be dressed head to toe in Made in the USA this year, I thank the USOC and Ralph Lauren for hearing our voices and working to correct this mistake going forward. I look forward to cheering on Team USA."
Source: Sporting News