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USA Olympic team gear made in China?

Published: Thursday, July 19th, 2012

Some people have gone ballistic over the fact that the uniforms Americans will wear in the upcoming London Olympics were made in China. Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada was livid when he told reporters, “I think they should take all the uniforms, put them in a big pile and burn them and start all over again.” Republican House Majority Leader John Boehner of Ohio said simply, “You would think they would know better.” He was speaking of the U.S. Olympic Committee members who chose the design and source of manufacture.
U.S. designer Ralph Lauren outfitted Teams USA in the past two Olympics at Beijing in 2008 and Vancouver in 2010. All of these uniforms were made abroad, but didn’t draw nearly the attention as these recent made-in-China revelations. The 2012 U.S. Olympic team Lauren-designed blue blazers, white pants or skirts, and blue berets, with red, white and blue ties, look quite sharp. It would be almost impossible at this point to throw these uniforms out and start over again. That would be wasted money.
Naturally, the Chinese didn’t think much of the criticism aimed at the U.S. Olympic uniforms made in China. Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency, said Monday that Mr. Reid’s comments smacked of “narrow nationalism and ignorance.” The agency went on to say, “The fury over the U.S. Olympic uniforms is just another example of the fierce, and sometimes ridiculous, political fighting going on the Capitol Hills in the year of election, which is dominated by economic growth and job creation.”
This year especially, the Chinese may have a point. If out-sourced U.S. Olympic uniforms were not a big deal in the previous two Olympics, why is it such a big deal this (election) year? It’s probably because these U.S. Olympic uniforms manufactured in China have only highlighted the fact that the vast majority of our clothing items sold in America are made elsewhere than in this country. Most of the American flags sold in this country are made in China. How is that for irony?
If anything, this Team USA Olympic uniform flap has brought to light the fact that there still are American manufacturers of clothing in this country who could have supplied the uniforms at about the same price as the Chinese. New York designer Nanette Lepore said American manufacturers could certainly have made the Olympic apparel and noted there are “factories just dying for this kind of an opportunity.” Lepore said she has all her clothes manufactured in this country and said producing clothes abroad is not much cheaper than making them at home.
It appears that the uniform decision-makers on the U.S. Olympic Committee drank the Kool-Aid of China being able to manufacture everything cheaper than in this country. It is noteworthy that Ralph Lauren has promised “to lead the conversation within our industry and our government to address the issue to increase manufacturing in the United States,” and has  “committed to producing the opening and closing ceremony Team USA uniforms in the United States that will be worn for the 2014 Olympic Games.”
At least somebody is listening.

Some people have gone ballistic over the fact that the uniforms Americans will wear in the upcoming London Olympics were made in China. Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada was livid when he told reporters, “I think they should take all the uniforms, put them in a big pile and burn them and start all over again.” Republican House Majority Leader John Boehner of Ohio said simply, “You would think they would know better.” He was speaking of the U.S. Olympic Committee members who chose the design and source of manufacture.

U.S. designer Ralph Lauren outfitted Teams USA in the past two Olympics at Beijing in 2008 and Vancouver in 2010. All of these uniforms were made abroad, but didn’t draw nearly the attention as these recent made-in-China revelations. The 2012 U.S. Olympic team Lauren-designed blue blazers, white pants or skirts, and blue berets, with red, white and blue ties, look quite sharp. It would be almost impossible at this point to throw these uniforms out and start over again. That would be wasted money.

Naturally, the Chinese didn’t think much of the criticism aimed at the U.S. Olympic uniforms made in China. Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency, said Monday that Mr. Reid’s comments smacked of “narrow nationalism and ignorance.” The agency went on to say, “The fury over the U.S. Olympic uniforms is just another example of the fierce, and sometimes ridiculous, political fighting going on the Capitol Hills in the year of election, which is dominated by economic growth and job creation.”

This year especially, the Chinese may have a point. If out-sourced U.S. Olympic uniforms were not a big deal in the previous two Olympics, why is it such a big deal this (election) year? It’s probably because these U.S. Olympic uniforms manufactured in China have only highlighted the fact that the vast majority of our clothing items sold in America are made elsewhere than in this country. Most of the American flags sold in this country are made in China. How is that for irony?

If anything, this Team USA Olympic uniform flap has brought to light the fact that there still are American manufacturers of clothing in this country who could have supplied the uniforms at about the same price as the Chinese. New York designer Nanette Lepore said American manufacturers could certainly have made the Olympic apparel and noted there are “factories just dying for this kind of an opportunity.” Lepore said she has all her clothes manufactured in this country and said producing clothes abroad is not much cheaper than making them at home.

It appears that the uniform decision-makers on the U.S. Olympic Committee drank the Kool-Aid of China being able to manufacture everything cheaper than in this country. It is noteworthy that Ralph Lauren has promised “to lead the conversation within our industry and our government to address the issue to increase manufacturing in the United States,” and has  “committed to producing the opening and closing ceremony Team USA uniforms in the United States that will be worn for the 2014 Olympic Games.”

At least somebody is listening.



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