So everybody knows by now that the US Olympic team's brand new Olympic uniforms were unveiled recently to a whole lot of criticism. Seems the Ralph Lauren designs were not very popular for a few reasons. Some people felt that the French beret was decidedly "un-American", but the real flap came over the fact that the 1000 plus team uniforms were made in China. US Soccer player Heather Mitts and US Fencing Champion Tim Morehouse modeled the uniforms on the Today show, and judging by the public's reaction, you'd have thought that these two were committing some kind of evil crime.
Here's my take:
- since the uniforms were unveiled, every would-bee politician has a public opinion on this matter and of course, it's a great way to gain political credence to be on the right side of an unpopular issue.
- Ralph Lauren donated the uniforms, so isn't there some Olympic Uniform Committee that has final say over his designs? And for that matter, didn't they ask about manufacturing? Seems the checks and balancing system is neither checking or balancing anything.
- What I have learned is this: Practically nothing is made in this country when it comes to garments. Many industry insiders side with Lauren when it comes to this issue, but agree that he should have understood the sensitivity people feel about "Made In The USA".
- Since only about 1000 uniforms were created, it's surprising that the job was outsourced to begin with. "The globalization of manufacturing" in this country is nothing new, and certainly not new when it comes to Olympic Uniforms. Until 2008, the Canadian apparel company Roots designed their unis and I'm not remembering a controversy of this magnitude. Ralph Lauren has already publicly announced that he's committed to making the 2014 Team uniforms in America.
- The Olympic team is privately funded. A statement from the Olympic Committee released recently has said, "Unlike most Olympic teams around the world, the U.S. Olympic Team is privately funded and we're grateful for the support of our sponsors," the committee said. "We're proud of our partnership with Ralph Lauren, an iconic American company."
OK, so Ralph Lauren made a huge blunder when he had the Olympic duds made in China. I think he's well aware of the "sensitivity" at this point and the bad PR it has caused his brand. Many fashion insiders confirm that garments just aren't created in this country a fact that is sad, but true.
I say let this be the first step in changing the industry and the world.
And tell all those media grabbing politicians to "lighten up, Francis".