During the 2012 Olympics in London, plenty of Americans were disappointed (but probably not terribly surprised) to find that the official Olympic gear was mostly made in China (and a few other countries too). The media was flooded with articles, opinion pieces and admonitions (even one from Congress) suggesting the American company make clothing for American athletes and fans in America.
But Ralph Lauren, the company who now has the contract to make this clothing (and has since 2010) had good reason for going to China; most of Lauren's clothing is made there, as it's cheaper and it already has supply lines set up for the rest of its apparel. In addition, due to many American clothing companies, including Lauren, continuing to export manufacturing and jobs to other countries where people can be paid less (as well as costly environmental regulations ignored, and toxic chemicals used) has decimated the American clothing manufacturing sector. The company explains that it was actually quite a feat to work with over 40 suppliers to reverse the trend of non-USA production for the new Olympic apparel—a trend that it is an integral part of, but which it never mentions, of course.
"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," David Lauren, the company's executive vice president of advertising, marketing and corporate communications, told the AP.
This is a bit of a different attitude than the one he had during the kerfuffle of complaints during the last Olympics, when he said, according to the AP, "what no one wanted to look at was the true complexity of making Olympic uniforms. We would have done it here if we could, but it was so much more complicated than people realized. Lots of places said they could help us make them, but when we called them, they couldn't." Well, the reason they 'couldn't' was because of companies, like Lauren's, that have made little to no effort to keep clothing manufacturing in the US (and yes, some smaller, less wealthy companies have managed to do so, it's not impossible).
Overall, though, this is, of course a very positive move for the company, and now that these connections are forged, with people as diverse as sheep ranchers in Oregon who didn't know if they would make it another year, to yarn spinners in Pennysylvania, and sewers in NYC's Garment District, let's hope it will continue.
And this proves that when all of us (clothes-wearing) citizens say something loudly and clearly enough, companies DO listen.
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