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Ralph Lauren promises to make 2014 Olympic uniforms in America

July 13, 2012|By Shan Li
  • This product image shows U.S. Olympic athletes -- from left, swimmer Ryan Lochte, decathlete Bryan Clay, rower Giuseppe Lanzone and soccer player Heather Mitts -- modeling the official Team USA opening ceremony parade uniform. The uniforms were made in China.
This product image shows U.S. Olympic athletes -- from left, swimmer Ryan… (Ralph Lauren / Associated…)

Come the 2014 Olympic Games, the U.S. team should once again be sporting uniforms made in America.

After weathering two days of criticism for manufacturing outfits for the 2012 London games in China, American retailer Ralph Lauren announced Friday that it was commited to producing uniforms in America for the 2014 Winter Games, which will be held in Sochi, Russia.

“Ralph Lauren promises to lead the conversation within our industry and our government addressing the issue of increasing manufacturing in the United States,” the company said.

Politicians seized upon the issue this week, with both Democratic and Republican leaders condemning the use of Chinese workers to make the American uniforms, which consist of a navy blazer, white pants or a skirt, and a beret.

In a letter to the U.S. Olympic Committee on Friday, Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) suggested that Hickey Freeman, a male apparel company based in Rochester, N.Y., should dress Team USA for the opening ceremony instead of Ralph Lauren.

“I urge you to reconsider your decision to use a Chinese manufacturer for our Olympians’ uniforms and instead give your business to companies such as Hickey Freeman,” Schumer wrote in the letter.

House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) told reporters that the Olympic committee "should have known better."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) suggested that the committee should “burn” all the Chinese-made outfits and “start all over again.”

“I think they should be embarrassed,” Reid said during a news conference Thursday. “If they have to wear nothing but a singlet that says 'USA' on it, painted by hand, then that’s what they should wear.”

Chances are, making the high-priced getups in the U.S. wouldn't bring down retail costs. The Olympians are getting them free of charge. But the complete opening ceremony outfit will set the average shopper back nearly $1,500 for the female version and almost $2,000 for the male version.

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