Friday, July 13, 2012

USA Olympic uniforms made in China?! That is wrong

It turns out the uniforms for Team USA's 530-member athlete delegation it will send to London for the Summer Olympics starting July 27 are made in China. Here's a story that explains the controversy in some detail and includes some angry words from U.S. politicians.

US Olympic Committee sponsor Ralph Lauren made the duds, and they apparently sport "Made in China" tags.

Now I understand outsourcing and I certainly am not a "Made in America" zealot, as I drive a Honda.

But seriously? The American Olympic team's uniforms weren't made in the USA?

Somebody at the USOC and at Ralph Lauren had to be really tone deaf not to think this was going to come back and bite them.

A USOC spokesman called the controversy "nonsense" on Twitter. I don't agree. My Dad worked for an American textile company for 24 years. So much of that work has been shipped overseas now, and the entire industry is struggling.

This was an unintentional slap in the face to the American textile industry, I imagine, but it's a slap in the face nonetheless. (Parts of the U.S. athletes' outfits have been manufactured out of the country before -- I remember in 2002 when the U.S. Winter Olympic team sported berets made by Roots, a Canadian company, and that was the hot item in all the souvenir stands).

As a gesture of courtesy, Ralph Lauren should offer to have the uniforms remade in the USA. At the very least, the company should make amends by adding something to the uniform that was very obviously made in the U.S.

The Chinese are likely to be America's biggest competition in the overall medal count at these Olympics. I covered the Olympics in Beijing in 2008, and that was a fantastic experience. It showed me in person how serious the Chinese are about sports.

The Chinese are a major international athletic force, and they will be trying to undress American athletes on the world stage.

They really don't need to be dressing us, too.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

Is it more American to simply buy American or to buy the best value? We were founded on the principles of capitalism. Instead of forcing the committee to purchase overpriced uniforms made at home, we should look in the mirror as to why we can't compete.

If the uniforms are identical but the ones made in China are 30% of the cost.....no brainer right? That 70% savings canb go into training or something more important. I don't think 550 uni's are gonna save Amercian textiles (which many are foreign owned anyways).

sanitizer said...

You cannot make out the Made in China tag, but the Ralph Lauren Logo is about as prominent as you can get. I find the branding more objectionable than where the stupid uniforms were made. perhaps they should use US military uniforms?

CharlieBrown said...

The US government has created this. The business climate they have created has lead to so much of our good being made in foreign lands instead of here at home. Why should our Olympic athletes be any different? It just underscores the problems we have in how our country is being led.

Anonymous said...

So the Olympic team purchased less expensive Chinese uniforms and then used the money saved for additional training so we can win more medals. Where is the problem?

Anonymous said...

BS. Who cares. My clothes aren't made in the USA, why should I whine when their clothes aren't either? Ralph Lauren donated this clothing to the team. If you don't like it, maybe you should take the team over to SouthPark a hook 'em all up with some American-made clothes there. No wait, you won't find them there either.

What about all the Nike gear they're going to wear in competition? Where do you think that was made? Tennis rackets? Soccer boots? Field Hockey sticks? Swimsuits? You're going to have to feign a whole lot of indignation (and pandering) in the next month if you're going to get upset when an American competitor wears or employs something that wasn't made in a US textile mill (which barely exists anyway).

The problem I see is that the design is awful. Double-breasted blazers with a big ugly Polo logo, goofy berets, white bucks, and unflattering skirts for the ladies. It looks like a Romney fundraiser on Nantucket.

Linus said...

I agree with Charlie Brown. Clinton signed NAFTA into law which pretty much killed our nations textile industry and now politicians are jumping on the bandwagon condemning this? BALONEY!! The government doesn't support our athletes financially so the team has to do the best they can and Ralph Lauren just happens to be a sponsor. We need to get over this or put up some bucks!

chumpski said...

Scott, 95% of that Honda was made in America. Most Fords and Chevy's have parts made outside of America. The days of cars being built solely in one country have been gone for 20 years. Catch up, or quit making ignorant comments.

Bobby Padgett said...

Just wrong on so many levels. I could understand this if Walmart was the official outfitter of our athletes, but not high dollar name designer like Mr. Lauren. When you go into Belks or Dillards and buy this man's clothing think of the extra profit he pockets having his wares sewn in the 3rd world.

Anonymous said...

Why? Because the USOC is privately funded. They receive no government support. Team USA simply would not exist without partners such as Ralph Lauren and Nike. Ralph Lauren is paying to sponsor our athletes and give them outfits and uniforms. This isn't a once-every-four-years thing. For these athletes, this is EVERY. DAY. They rely on support from private funding in order to eat, live, train and be competitive. Ralph Lauren is standing behind our athletes. What have you done for them?

Perhaps if more people cared about the Olympic hopefuls on a daily basis, the USOC could be a bit more demanding of their sponsors and request that uniforms be made on domestic soil. Sadly, that isn't the case. This isn't news.

Anonymous said...

Dont forget about the Made In China American Flag.

Skippy said...

Lauren is a liberal, what did you expect.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but I find our country being billion of dollars in debt to Chineese bankers more offensive than the clothes Olypians wear.

Shelly said...

The coats retail for $600-800, so not sure how they saved money. That is ridiculous.
My daddy owned a hosiery mill and outsourcing ruined the business.
Ralph Lauren is far from a true patriot and an elitist and a liberal, so the Dems need to be careful how they portray the 'money-making' right.

Anonymous said...

There will be one aspect of every uniform that is 'Made in America'...the person wearing it.

Anonymous said...

We don't make clothes in this country anymore, we design clothes now. So as long as the designer is American, who cares.

Anonymous said...

This is the most non-sensical, idiotic reason for outcry in a while. Harry Reid proves he is the biggest bufoon in Washington D.C. again for his ridiculous, jingoist comments. What a fool he is to call for the burning of anything, let alone uniforms with our colors and letters. It smacks of another, far less tolerant era.

Yes, Ralph Lauren could have outfitted Team USA, a mere 550 units, with American-made products, but hardly anyone in the general public would have been able to afford anything but the Chinese-made version. Everyday folks like to buy these articles to support Team USA, but if an American-made beret is north of $200 or a sweater more than $300, sales would be disappointing.

The American textile industry has been decimated by unsustainable taxes, inflated wages and uncooperative business conditions. I hate we've lost these jobs too, but can you blame companies when China offers such an attractive alternative?

This whole episode is even stupider than "Freedom Fries" after 9-11, because at least fools like Reid didn't call for a ceremonial and public burning back in 2002.

Anonymous said...

I know that most Americans don't know this but the Value Added Tax (VAT) system used by the Chinese and everybody else in the world puts US made products at a 25 - 35% price disadvantage for anything that is made in China. Having spent years manufacturing in the US as well as China, I'm intimately familiar with what happens. Our American Politicians like to focus on the currency exchange rate but that just shows American stupidity again in the Global Marketplace.

Anonymous said...

The people who aren't outraged about this, are the same people who complain about the unemployment rate while shopping at walmart. If your not outraged, the next time you feel the urge to complain about the state of the US, punch yourself for me please.

Shamash said...

Our military uniforms are supposed to be made in the US, but they have granted an exception for an Austrian-made fabric for combat use which is superior in fire resistance to anything we can make in the US (due to environmental regulations).

This fabric is called TenCate Defender M.

So, do we buy American and suffer more burns?

WashuOtaku said...

This shouldn't be surprising as the US Olympic Committee doesn't get hand-outs from the government like other national teams, thus will try to save a buck here and there. In a sense, it's very American because we strive to find the cheapest bang for our buck.

As for the Chinese, it seems they have replaced the Soviet Union as a nation to prove to the world that "there people" are better. From shows like 60 minutes and other reports shown, they are trained very early for these Olympics and once there usefulness is done, they are left to defend themselves with no fall-back. In a sense, its tragic and not surprising from a communist nation.

Anonymous said...

The fact that they are basically a Ralph Lauren billboard bothers me more than anything. Much like in 1992 when the Dream Team guys affiliated with Nike used the American flag to cover up the Reebok logo. My flag isn't supposed to be used as a neck wrap, and my country's athletes aren't supposed to be sales men and women.

OK, I'm done now.

Anonymous said...

Not only are the uniforms made in China, they look stupid as well. Someone needs their butt kicked all around for these decisions. I'm calling the Fashion Police right now.

par said...

Why. Need to keep cost down.

Skippy said...

Are you going to print this one Scotty or do you believe in stifling free speech?

From the Washington Free Beacon:

Lawmakers were livid to discover that the United States’ Olympic team uniforms were made in China. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) even suggested “they should take all the uniforms, put them in a big pile and burn them and start all over again.”

The company who designed the uniforms, Ralph Lauren, has received less scrutiny. Few outlets have noted that Ralph Lauren himself is a prominent contributor to President Obama and the Democratic Party.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Lauren has given $7,300 to Obama since 2008, and more than $35,000 to the Democratic National Committee.

Anonymous said...

The story that I read yesterday says that the uniforms could have been made cheaper here!
They are not being cheaply made in China.
It actually listed the cost of each item.
It symbolizes everything that is wrong with our country, we should be thinking USA first, not last!

Anonymous said...

As a once famous Charlottean used to say..."It is what it is"

Anonymous said...

Many think that our country supports our athletes... think again!

The United States is one of only three countries where Olympic athletes receive no government funding. Instead the U.S. Olympic Committee relies exclusively on income from the sale of television broadcast rights and from corporate sponsors.

Let them buy their clothes wherever they please.

Anonymous said...

Southeast Asia produces 75% of all US goods for about 10% of the cost of the American worker and this is why it gets cheaper prices to stretch their dollars at places like Walmart, Target, Macys, Talheimers, Nike, J Crew, Brooks Brothers, Home Depot, Dell, HP, etc or all other retail outlets.

Globalization NAFTA and CAFTA of America in the late 80s with the world created a complete change of mentality.

Still it is 100% appropriate to have America at least symbolically manufacture its own Olympic clothing gear without exception.

Anonymous said...

It's just a shame the employment environment and the need for sponsorship plugging has to sully what should be a celebration of our nation's best athletes.

Anonymous said...

Politicians love issues like this because it can distract Americans from issues that actually matter.

Endless war? Downward spiraling economy? That doesn't matter... Let's argue about where jerseys are made, when the majority of all goods have been made in China for years. Riiiight

Kristin said...

Textile industry is DIFFERENT. Country of Orign labels show where a garment is sewn, not where the fabrics (textiles) originate. If no one stated a concern at point of order, PRL was correct to assume their production team could pick the right facility to do the work at the right price.

PRL is one of the top 3 (volume and revenue) fashion conglomerates in the United States, owning many of their own stores, providing THOUSANDS, literally thousands, of US jobs.