Talk about raining on our patriotic parade! While we were off dreaming about how handsome Ryan Lochte looks in that Opening Ceremony uniform last week, we were brought back down to earth with some pretty upsetting news. As many have heard by now, those oh-so-American outfits and USA Olympic dresses designed by Ralph Lauren weren't made in the country they're supposed to represent — they were actually created in China.
While the company remained mum until this past weekend, New York Representative Steve Israel and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand spoke out against the matter as part of a communal outcry last week. In a letter to the chairman of the U.S. Olympic Committee, Gillibrand criticized Ralph Lauren Inc. for not producing the outfits stateside, emphasizing that "From head to toe, Team U.S.A. must be made in America.”
With such emphasis on American excellence, athletic support and hometown pride, how could something like this happen? Well, since the U.S. Olympic Team is privately funded, it treats Ralph Lauren as simply another outside sponsor. And, according to a recently released statement, the U.S. Olympic Committee is standing behind the designer wholeheartedly.
Ralph Lauren has since spoken out about the issue and pledged that clothing for the 2014 Olympic Games will be made and produced stateside, but that doesn't mean it's a closed-book issue. WWD's Bridget Foley took to her notepad to call out officials for provoking an "ill-informed, misguided, and silly" condemnation based more around re-election than actually supporting U.S.-produced goods, especially considering how many other products are made in China. And, Team U.S.A.'s uniforms aren't the only goods being called into question — WWD cites that Nike and Adidas, who is sponsoring the 2012 Games, operate parts of their production internationally as well.
With so many of our goods being outsourced these days, this whole discussion raises an important issue with no clear solution. But, with the games just days away, let's hope they don't take Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's suggestion of throwing all the outfits in a pile, burning them, and starting from scratch. A naked athlete ain't a winning one, though in Lochte's case...we might be okay with that. (WWD)