America has made a huge mistake – only this time, they’ll have to answer to the fashion police. In preparation for the start of the 2012 Summer Olympics, it was recently made public that the U.S.A.’s Olympic uniforms, designed by Ralph Lauren, were actually made in China. What obviously followed here was a huge wave of backlash and criticism for two reasons: 1) the severe lack of patriotism that this implies and 2) the possibility that these uniforms were not created in the most ideal work environments.
Now when people hear the phrase “Made in China”, certain ghastly images come to mind – most notably the chance that American uniforms were made in Chinese sweatshops. Unfortunately, to add icing to this ‘cake’, Lauren will not reveal the factory in which the uniforms were made, thus making it even more likely that they were, in fact, made in sweatshops. In case you’re not familiar, common practices in China’s sweatshops include: paying the workers $1 per hour, not giving them days off and withholding the first month’s pay check (just because), among other things. These conditions cause the workers to have to work overtime and to forfeit a month’s wages if they quit.
Not to mention, the uniforms are supposed to represent the United States of America. Knowing that they were made in China takes away from that sense of pride and patriotism.
Recently Ralph Lauren released a statement promising that they will work to increase manufacturing in the U.S. for the 2014 Olympic uniforms. Since the U.S. Olympic Team is privately funded, Lauren noted that he will be working to communicate with the industry and the government to address this issue.
In addition to all of this, there has been a great deal of criticism on the actual look of the uniforms.
As Vicki Hyman said in The Star-Ledger, the uniform gives off the “I-enjoy-sipping-cocktails-on-my-yacht” kind of vibe rather than the “I-enjoy-running-the-100-meters-in-less-than-10-seconds” vibe.
This just goes to show you, while you might think it doesn’t matter, people are always watching what you are wearing. Appearance isn’t everything but when you are a well-known clothing designer tasked with outfitting your nation’s Olympic team, it definitely adds to your reputation. So dress appropriately for the situation!