This product image released by Ralph Lauren shows U.S. Olympic athletes, from left, swimmer Ryan Lochte, decathlete Bryan Clay, rower Giuseppe Lanzone and soccer player Heather Mitts modeling the the official Team USA Opening Ceremony Parade Uniform. As an official outfitter of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams, Ralph Lauren has designed Team USA's Official Opening and Closing Ceremony Parade Uniforms as well as a unique collection of village wear apparel and accessories which embodies the spirit of American athleticism and sportsmanship. (AP Photo/Ralph Lauren)
Ralph Lauren may be perceived as the all-American brand, but its uniforms for the US Olympic team—designs for which were unveiled earlier this week—are made entirely in China, a fact that's bringing Congress to a rolling boil.
According to AP, Republicans and Democrats alike are up in arms about the ensembles being made in China when it could easily provide work for US garment manufacturers.
"I am so upset," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told AP reporters. "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... if they have to wear nothing but a singlet that says USA on it, painted by hand, then that's what they should wear."
House Democractic leader Nancy Pelosi agreed with Reid's impassioned assessment, saying that the USA athletes "should be wearing uniforms that are made in America."
In an official statement, the Olympic Committee explained that "unlike most Olympic teams....the U.S. Olympic Team is privately funded and we're grateful for the support of our sponsors," indicating that the decision to outsource the uniform's manufacture was Ralph Lauren's, and not the committee's.
Nonetheless, emotions are running high in Washington. "It is not just a label, it's an economic solution," Representative Steve Israel told AP. "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."
Of course, this isn't the first time an American Olympic garment has been manufactured outside the US: In 2002, the fleece berets our team sported to the Salt Lake City games were produced by Roots, a Canadian company.