Ralph Lauren is given the task of designing the uniforms for the american olympic team. Kind of a no brainer here. His brand was founded on the basis of the classic american prep look and he has made a name and several millions off this image for decades… so nothing could go wrong right? Well turns out it could. The outfits while looking great(maybe discounting the beret and the awkward skirt length) seem to have come with the wrong tag! Literally. Mr. Lauren designed a line up of perfectly prep iconic american clothes that were made in China! Predictably several people including fellow designers and several government officials are calling him out on it. Here are my thoughts
– Outsourcing will always be a center of debate with regards to wether it is good or bad for the economy. Often brands compete for the “best price” and end up choosing countries like India and China for the lower cost involved. But with the competitive advantage and pricing taking a back seat in this case, manufacturing the opening ceremony outfits elsewhere just seems like a losing proposition.
– It is also relevant that the US olympic team is privately sponsored so there are probably several financial clauses which we are not privy to. So this whole outsourcing could have been a result of fine print! But still it seems like a weak excuse when “american pride” is taking center stage! On second thought, these outfits are for sale on the RL website so I guess being profitable may just take usurp pride!
– Perhaps, this whole situation is a reflection on today’s economy. It is very possible that uniforms in the past have been outsourced but it’s relevance seems hard hitting in today’s world when jobs are fewer and the garment industry here is in serious need of a new lease of life.
The athletes probably have more pressing concerns than their uniforms and as for Ralph, this too shall pass! Meanwhile the Brits are probably feeling better about Stella’s designs! 😉