UPDATE: After a strong backlash, Ralph Lauren has announced that it will commit to producing the U.S. Olympic team uniforms for the 2014 Winter Games in the USA, writing in a statement: “Ralph Lauren promises to lead the conversation within our industry and our government addressing the issue of increasing manufacturing in the United States."
When Ralph Lauren debuted the new U.S. Olympic opening ceremony uniforms earlier this week, reactions were mixed at best.
Ralph Lauren described the looks as "classic silhouettes in a timeless palette," but everyone found something to pick on. The hosts of "Fox & Friends" felt the beret was a tad too European. "The big question though is should the American team be wearing a beret? Why not a baseball cap?" said co-host Steve Doocy. The New York Post found the uniforms aggressively preppy. Stylist Robert Verdi told the Daily News, "I wasn’t sure if they were really chic crossing guards or Olympians." Ouch.
Yet there's another sticking point: the uniforms were made in China. ABC World News noted that every single piece of the uniforms, from the neckties to the shoes to those silly berets, was manufactured overseas. Nanette Lepore, a strong advocate of American-based manufacturing and New York City's Garment Center, told ABC World News, "Why shouldn't we have pride not only in the American athletes but in the American manufacturers and laborers who are the backbone of our country?"
Others didn't feel as strongly. On CNN’s "Starting Point," host Soledad O’Brien found that she was the only one bothered by the un-American nature of America's Olympic duds. "Fine, no one’s outraged but me this morning,” O’Brien said when her guests noted just how much American fashion is made in China.
But O’Brien isn't totally alone. The same controversy erupted in 2008 when Reuters reported that Chinese tailors had a hand in Ralph Lauren's U.S. uniforms for the Beijing Olympics. Unsurprisingly, the same discussion over American manufacturing and lack of patriotism ensued.
Ralph Lauren also found themselves in hot water over their 2010 U.S. Olympics uniforms, when members of the Daughters of the American Revolution threatened to ban Polo merchandise from being sold in certain country clubs because of the lack of patriotic insignia on the 2010 Olympic gear. (Too many polo ponies, not enough stars and stripes.)
Check out the uniforms below and tell us what you think: is it problematic that the U.S. Olympic uniforms weren't made in America?
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