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article imageRalph Lauren pledges US Olympic 2014 uniforms will be made in US

By JohnThomas Didymus     Jul 14, 2012 in Sports
Ralph Lauren announced Friday that the uniforms it will make for the U.S. Olympic team's use at the opening and closing ceremonies of the the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia will be made in the USA.
The U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) also said Friday that the uniforms for the ceremonies at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games will be made in the United States.
Fox News reports that according to a statement by the company: "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."
Ralph Lauren's statement comes after lawmakers raised questions following information that the uniforms for this year's summer Games in London were made in China.
According to The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), the controversy over Ralph Lauren making the US Olympics uniform in China put the state of the US fashion industry in the spotlight with members of Congress expressing outrage over the Committee's decision to allow national team members appear in uniforms manufactured in China.
Digital Journal reports that the decision of the Olympic Committee to dress American athletes in berets, blazers and pants made in China while the American textile industry struggles got both Republican and Democrats fuming. According to Senate Majority leader Harry Reid, D-Nev: "I am so upset. I think the Olympic committee should be ashamed of themselves. I think they should be embarrassed. I think they should take all the uniforms, put them in a big pile and burn them and start all over again."
He added: "If they have to wear nothing but a singlet that says USA on it, painted by hand, then that's what they should wear."
According to Digital Journal, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, said at a weekly news conference that "they (athletes) should be wearing uniforms that are made in America."
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said: "You'd think they'd know better."
But WSJ notes that for apparel companies, the decision is not one of politics but of economics. Producing clothing in the U.S is more expensive and is now mostly "associated with luxury brands like The Row, Jason Wu and HONOR."
Fox News reports that some senators are considering introducing a bill that would require U.S. Olympic Committee to adopt a policy that all uniforms are "sewn or assembled in the United States."
According to one of the bill's sponsors Senator Bob Casey (D-Pa), "The U.S. Olympic Committee was 100 percent wrong to outsource the manufacturing of U.S. uniforms for the opening ceremony to China."
Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, said the panel should be "ashamed" and called for the Chinese-made uniforms to be burned.
Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., called the situation "appalling" and "embarrassing."
The lawmakers sponsoring the bill have indicated that the bill would be applied only to future Olympics but called on the Olympic Committee to "'do the right thing for this summer's team' by soliciting new, made-in-the-USA uniforms."
CNN reports that critics on Facebook and Twitter demanded that Ralph Lauren and the USOC manufacture new uniforms in the United States
But Fox News reports that Ralph Lauren did not respond to calls that the company should produce new uniforms this year.
However, CNN reports that USOC CEO Scot Blackmun, said in a statement: "With athletes having already arrived in London, and the apparel distribution process beginning this weekend, we are unfortunately not able to make a change for London. We are absolutely committed, however, to working with our sponsors to ensure that the concerns voiced are addressed. To that end, Ralph Lauren has agreed to domestically manufacture Team USA's apparel for Opening and Closing Ceremonies for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games."
Digital Journal reports that in its statement, the US Olympic Committee said it was "proud" of its partnership with Ralph Lauren. The Committee 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. We're proud of our partnership with Ralph Lauren, an iconic American company, and excited to watch America's finest athletes compete at the upcoming Games in London."
According to The New York Daily News, Ralph Lauren did the designing but apparel contractors in China made the uniforms. Fox News reports: "Every item in the uniforms that the U.S. athletes will wear at the opening ceremony in London will carry an overseas label."
But WSJ notes that even if clothing is sewn within the U.S., the claim on the label that it was “Made in the USA” comes with significant qualifications: "With many of America’s once-famous mills closed, fabric often comes from abroad."
But The Huffington Post reports that Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., said: "It is not just a label, it's an economic solution. Today there are 600,000 vacant manufacturing jobs in this country and the Olympic committee is outsourcing the manufacturing of uniforms to China? That is not just outrageous, it's just plain dumb. It is self-defeating."
Fox News reports Ralph Lauren said in a statement that it pledges to "lead the conversation within our industry and our government to address the issue to increase manufacturing in the United States."
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