Made in the USA

By Meredith White

It’s official: The 100-day countdown to the Sochi Olympic Winter Games has begun, and Ralph Lauren has learned from previous mistakes. This February, Team USA will finally sport uniforms stitched with a “Made in the USA” label.

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If you follow the Olympics like I do, you probably remember all the media drama over Team USA’s uniforms during this past Summer Olympics in London—they weren’t made in America.  The uniforms were made in China. Ralph Lauren made a huge mistake with his decision to put Chinese garments on Team USA’s athletes during the Summer Olympics in two ways: free trade and branding.

A lot of political controversy erupted over the uniforms and the idea of free trade. The Wall Street Journal effectively explains why: “Someone should tell these folks that if you want to have exports, you also have to have imports.”

Ralph Lauren prides his brand on being all-American, and, thus, the company was offered opportunity to showcase America’s pride by designing our athletes’ uniforms. But he ended up missing the mark when it was discovered that our American athletes were in fact wearing foreign-made uniforms.

However, everyone’s human and we all make mistakes—including Ralph Lauren.

As Ralph Lauren himself explains: “For more than 46 years, Ralph Lauren has worked to build a brand that embodies the best quality and innovation, with a design philosophy rooted in the heritage of our country. Drawing on the beauty of the American landscape and our nation’s rich cultural history, everything we make begins in America, where we conceive and design all of our products. This year, we designed, sourced and manufactured Team USA’s uniforms in the United States—from yarn to dye to finished product.”

Apparently the company has spent two years planning, as the diagram below suggests.


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More than 40 U.S. partners; 6,250 pounds of wool for the Opening Ceremony Sweater; 5,625,000 yards of yarn spun and dyed for the Opening Ceremony Sweater; 650 Uniforms made for Team USA; and 65,000 clothing items “Made in America” for the Sochi Winter Olympic Games.

Forbes got ahold of Ralph Lauren executive David Lauren for insight into the process behind this challenge. David is also Ralph Lauren’s youngest son.

“We have worked incredibly hard as a company to go across America to find the best partners to help us produce the Olympic uniforms at the highest quality for the best athletes in the world.  From ranchers in the rural West to yarn spinners in Pennsylvania to sewers in New York’s Garment District,” David Lauren said.

He said that the biggest challenge was finding facilities that were able to produce the number of garments they needed, but at the level of quality they required. For this reason, there are fewer pieces in this year’s Olympic uniform.

No matter how many pieces are in this year’s Olympic uniform, I can’t wait to see what they look like!

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One Response to Made in the USA

  1. John Briggs says:

    How can Ralph Lauren pride his brand on being all-American when virtually everything he sells is made overseas? What a joke! If you want to buy from a brand that actually takes pride in making things in the U.S., I suggest you give Ralph Lauren a very wide berth. Instead buy products from real American firms like Wigwam, Allen Edmonds, Hart Schaffner Marx, Joseph Abboud and other firms that actually make their products here in the States. A challenge to find facilities in this country that were able to produce the number of garments they needed, but at the level of quality they required? Next time maybe Ralph should contact Hickey Freeman; their suits are of a quality that the Ralph Lauren brand should emulate. After Ralph’s embarrassing blow it at the London Olympics, the U.S. Olympic Committee should have shown him and his firm the door.


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