I'm sure you've probably heard by now that Ralph Lauren was given the [lucky] task of creating the 2012 USA Olympic Team uniforms. Is it just me, or has this been one big fiasco? My initial reaction to seeing the photo above was this: I'm an American; not a Frenchmen. Now, I'm a sucker for a sharp-looking blazer...but it looks as if we're marching into the Olympic stadium trying to be something we're not...
Yacht club member?
Let me continue playing the part of "Negative Nelly" and point out the recent outrages about this collection: The opening ceremony outfits cost a cool $2000 per athlete. Oh that's right, we're not in an economic crisis or anything...with athletes struggling to raise money for their own families to go to London to watch them perform. And these uniforms are being manufactured in China? Okay, okay...let's try and roll with the argument that we're welcoming globalization with open arms...but what do you think of Ralph Lauren's response to all of the American fury?
"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 US 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."
Interesting. Nice save, Ralph? It's good to know that the company is thinking ahead! Because manufacturing American uniforms in the USA for this year's Olympics was a far-fetched idea in the first place? There is no apology or excuse made; this is a matter-of-fact reaction, because nothing can really be done at this point. Should they have defended themselves? Is there even a need to be defensive? It doesn't go unnoticed that there is a clear expectation that Ralph Lauren will be responsible for creating the uniforms for the 2014 Games as well. Confident, aren't we? My curiosity around this issue has lead me to dig a little more and explore some other responses to the designer dilemma:
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1. This has caused such a ruckus that Democratic senators plan to produce the "Team USA Made in America Act" that mandates athletes be dressed from head to toe in American-made clothing. Is this for real or are we just trying to score some easy political points? Think about how much we collaborate with China when it comes to manufacturing. Granted, the idea of having our athletes clothed in American-made outfits should probably be a priority...but we as a country don't seem to have a problem when it comes buying Chinese-made products in other aspects of our daily life (see next point).
2. Let's consider that nearly 50% of our closets are made up of clothing made in China. Do you hate that 50% of your closet so much you want to throw it out? I didn't think so...and this is just clothes we're talking about.
3. Ralph Lauren moved most of its manufacturing to China over a decade ago and has been the official outfitter of the U.S. Olympic Team since 2008. Funny, I don't remember this uproar back then...but I do expect uproar when Ryan Lochte parades around in this sexy outfit:
4. Producing uniforms here in the States would fix the unemployment problem. Is this really a legit statement? A few dozen jobs for a short period of time, perhaps...but don't make stupid exaggerations.
5. "I think they should take all the uniforms, put them in a big pile and burn them and start all over again," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. Wow, maybe we should step back and think about who we are voting into office? For someone who thinks the U.S. Olympic Committee should be embarrassed, I think the Senate may be the ones actually embarrassed.
6. The U.S. Olympic Team is privately funded, unlike most other teams. We should be grateful for the financial support from Ralph Lauren. This is a valid point, but I do believe that it is a realistic and feasible goal to design and produce our athletic attire here in the States...and it should have been encouraged and made public long before now.
7. In regards to the beret look: The must-have souvenir of the 2002 Salt Lake Games was a fleece beret produced by Roots, a Canadian company that was the official U.S. team outfitter for that opening ceremony. Maybe it's just me who isn't a fan of the beret look (a little too European), but evidently we keep going back to it:
2004 - Athens, Greece
2002 - Salt Lake City, Utah
1956 - Cortina D'Ampezzo, Italy
I'm sure you've heard your fair share of other reactions as well, but let's try and focus on the here and now: We are sending 500+ of our best athletes to London. And we are going to kick some serious ass. All in the spirit of good sportsmanship and world unity, of course ;) Whatever your opinion on the Ralph Lauren matter may be, the designer is still an American household name and has continued to create quite an Olympic collection:
Whether you choose to support the brand or not is your decision, but please make sure to support the amazing men and women who are representing our nation from July 27th - August 12th. My family is definitely in celebration mode...my little sister is even ringing in her 21st birthday with an Olympic-themed party! Get ready for a little stars & stripes action...
Images via Forbes. CNN, People, Google