Lawmakers and American citizens alike continue to express outrage regarding ABC World News’ report that the U.S. Olympic team will be outfitted head-to-toe in Chinese-made apparel for the 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony. Ralph Lauren has long been depicted as an American heritage brand, embodying the American spirit, yet the brand is almost exclusively manufactured overseas. Back in 1967, when Lauren opened his first tie shop, his close proximity to American manufacturers and textile companies in New York’s garment district provided him the means to launch his necktie line. As his company continued to expand over the decades he took a note out of hundreds of other American companies’ business models and began outsourcing his apparel to China to cut bottom lines. In recent years China, the former epicenter of low-cost manufacturing, has experienced a boon in price hikes as a series of sweeping mandates have forced China to enact stricter environmental and labor controls, slashing export-tax rebates that helped create the country’s massive trade surplus. Outsourcing is no longer as profitable as it used to be. As Nanette Lepore states in the ABC video, it would absolutely be possible to outfit American Olympians in U.S.-made uniforms for less cost.
To prove that the U.S. could have produced the Opening Ceremony separates for less than Ralph Lauren manufactured them in China, I decided to examine the American-made alternatives currently available. The following articles of clothing are all manufactured in the U.S. and serve as a reminder, that in fact, our Olympians could be wearing less expensive American-made apparel than the Chinese-made goods they’ll be sporting in 10 days.