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The saga continues. Last week, ABC broke the "news" that the uniforms Ralph Lauren designed for athletes to wear in the Olympic Opening and Closing ceremonies were manufactured in China. (News is in quotes here because it's hardly new—the New York Times calculates that the uniforms have been produced overseas or in Canada for more than a decade.) Anyway, blogs and media outlets picked up the story and on Thursday, a handful of senators in Washington ran with it, too.
According to USA Today, Senator Bernie Sanders voiced concerns that foreign-made uniforms are unpatriotic. "The Olympics are a time when Americans take great pride in our nation's top athletes as they strive for gold. At a time when millions of Americans are unemployed, there is no reason why U.S. Olympic uniforms are not being manufactured in the U.S.," he said.
Senator Harry Reid got more colorful about it, saying that the United States Olympic Committee should "take all the uniforms, put them in a big pile and burn them."
(For the record, Wall Street Journal fashion reporter Christina Binkley just thinks they're tacky.)
Now, Ralph Lauren, which took over the exclusive license for the Opening and Closing Ceremony uniforms in 2008, has issued a statement promising that uniforms for the 2014 Olympics will be produced right here in America.
“For more than 45 years, Ralph Lauren has built a brand that embodies the best of American quality and design rooted in the rich heritage of our country. We are honored to continue our longstanding relationship with the United States Olympic Committee in the 2014 Olympic Games by serving as an official outfitter of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams. Ralph Lauren promises to lead the conversation within our industry and our government to address the issue to increase manufacturing in the United States. We have committed to producing the opening and closing ceremony Team USA uniforms in the United States that will be worn for the 2014 Olympic Games.”
Which, in a way, could actually open the door for a public look at the the issues involved with domestic manufacturing. If all eyeballs (including those belonging to shoppers and politicians) are on RL's choice of American factories for the next Olympics, the American garment industry has an opportunity to make a case for American design and manufacturing, much of which has been superseded by fast fashion over the past decades. Stay tuned.
· Ralph Lauren Pledges American-Made Olympic Uniforms for 2014 [NYT]
· Are Ralph Lauren's Gigantic Olympic Ponies Tacky? Christina Binkley Thinks So [Racked]