General Question

Cruiser's avatar

US Olympic atheletes to wear China made it a big deal?

Asked by Cruiser (40421points) July 13th, 2012

Does it matter at all the Ralph Lauren who outsourced these uniforms is a heavy donor to Obama and the DNC?? Is this just par for the course? Do we just have to grin and bear this? If not Obama…Bain, Mitt, and entire US government beholden to donors??

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53 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

I’m embarrassed as an American that Ralph Lauren did this, but I don’t connect it to his politics, I put responsibility on the US Olympic Committee. They obviously don’t care or they’d put a Made in USA clause in the contract.

JLeslie's avatar

I think the US Olympic team should wear uniforms made in America. I guess at least they used an American designer, RL truly is considered and represents an American brand, what a shame they didn’t think it through. I don’t know how much of RL’s garments are made in America? We don’t have a ton of factories making clothing here anymore. Still, there are enough factories that they could have made a point to make it here I guess.

I don’t see how the politics of donating money to Obama or the other things you mentioned play into the whole thing.

jaytkay's avatar

@Cruiser So you and your kids do not use any Chinese products? Correct?

XOIIO's avatar

@Cruiser Pretty much everything you guys have is made in china, america needs a giant made in china sign.

Adagio's avatar

The NZ Olympics uniforms were also made offshore, in Turkey, China and Italy. It does seem a shame not to produce them in the country they are to represent. A question of economics? Who knows…

gondwanalon's avatar

As long as the uniforms don’t have a picture of Mao Tse-tung on them and the cost is cheap and quality good then what the heck. I’m OK with that. After all what the heck can I do about it? This is a very small matter compared to the huge financial and political messes the U.S.A is in. Just relax and sit back and enjoy the women’s beach volleyball and hope for the best.

Aethelflaed's avatar

At least in theory, the Olympics is about getting along with other nations, not about intense nationalism. So having our uniforms be a joint effort seems rather in line with the Olympic spirit.

rooeytoo's avatar

I wonder why they chose Ralph whose clothes are so outrageously expensive and overpriced. If the nation is having serious financial problems why not be a bit circumspect and have them made by a small American company who will do it at a good price for the publicity it would gain for them. Really does the little bitty horsey logo make them any more comfy? I actually thought they are a bit silly looking, a little bit too Ralphie for me! I have to admit I do like some of Ralph’s more conservative designs, but I can’t bring myself to spend that much money for casual clothes when I can buy a brand that looks as good, wears better for a fraction of the price. (well based on the cost of the Lauren fashions in Australia, maybe they are not as expensive in the USA)

augustlan's avatar

I’d prefer that the uniforms be made in America, and it seems like that should be part of the contract right up front.

JLeslie's avatar

How do we know the uniforms were expensive? That is huge advertising for Ralph Lauren. They might be free, below cost, at cost, or retail, we have no idea (that is unless someone does know?). I worked for a few different designers in my day, and when I was an employee we bought anything we wanted for 40% off cost. In other words an $80 shirt cost me $24.

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rooeytoo's avatar

This says they cost $1945 each. Sounds like a lot for a blazer, pants, shirt, tie and beret. Don’t know about the underwear and shoes. But for Ralphie, that is almost cheap, here the blazer alone would have cost that if not more.

JLeslie's avatar

@rooeytoo I still wonder if that is just the estimated retail price, and not necessarily what was paid to RL, but it might be. I have no idea. I don’t know who pays for all these things in the end anyway? Does out government pay for it with tax money? Is it private donations to the Olympics? Is it from sponsors who sponsor the individual athlete? How does that work anyway?

I will say this RL, is one of those vendors many Europeans, especially the Brits, used to come to America and stock up on while visiting here. That was my experience when I worked retail back 10–20 years ago.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Thanks for the link to the article @rooeytoo. It says: The outfits – which cost close to $2,000 (£1,300) – were designed by US label Ralph Lauren.

The article goes on to say, “Today there are 600,000 vacant manufacturing jobs in this country and the Olympic committee is outsourcing the manufacturing of uniforms to China?” said Steve Israel, a House Democrat.

From these statements, it doesn’t sound like Ralph Lauren was the person who decided to outsource the manufacturing of the uniforms.

Cruiser's avatar

@jaytkay The question was not whether me or my family buying Chinese products is a big deal.

JLeslie's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer Oh, interesting. That could be interpreted several ways. The Olympic committee directly outsourced RL designs, or RL outsources the manufacturing of the garments.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Good point @JLeslie. Here is another article that talks more about Olympic cost funding and choosing who makes the uniforms.

jca's avatar

It’s all over the news. I think it would have shown good patriotism and support for the US if the uniforms were both designed and manufactured in the US. Like @augustlan said, it should have been specified in the contract.

jca's avatar

@jaytkay and @XOIIO: Probably half the things in my house, including my clothes, are made in China. However, I’m not an Olympian, representing my country to the world, that the world will be watching and scrutinizing.

Cruiser's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer That was a great link that really put things in perspective. The article reminds us how the USOC and the entire Olympic team gets zero funding from our government and relies on support from their sponsors like Ralph Lauren. So the US Team and the USOC needs the support from Ralph Lauren more than RL needs their business. Apparently RL is a big time donor to the US Olympic team and IMO that in itself does more for our athletes than the brouhaha over where the uniforms are made.

philosopher's avatar

It is disgusting.

Buttonstc's avatar

Another interesting note I just saw last night on Nightline.

There was much lamenting over this and protestations that with only 14 days left before the Olympics, it was too late to substitute with American made.

Well, a lot of enterprising companies here in the US making various articles of clothing replied to ABC (whose reportage first highlighted the Made in China sticker in an on-air piece) “We can get it done in that time. No problem”.

They even had footage of cheering employees eager for the job and affirming two weeks turnaround time

They have compiled a list of all the companies which contacted them along with which part of the clothing they make and every item in the current wardrobe can be made by a US company in time. They’ve forwarded the list to the USOC.

It will be interesting to see what develops.

And to look on the bright side from one odd angle: this is the first issue in a long time which has sparked total bipartisan agreement.


jaytkay's avatar

@Cruiser sorry for personalizing the question, that wasn’t right.

The point I was making is that a lot, maybe most consumer products purchased by Americans are made in China.

Making a stink about a few hundred uniforms is disingenuous, especially when the real reason it’s in the news is that Republicans are using it to make a jab at the President for the actions of a non-political, private enitity.

The Olympics, the Girl Scouts, Christmas – there is absolutely nothing that Conservatives won’t turn into a hate-fest.

wilma's avatar

I think that the question is valid and has nothing to do with politics, and everything to do with not paying attention to something thing that matters.
They (whoever made the decision to purchase from China) apparently didn’t care where they were buying the clothes from, for the team, that would be representing the United States to the world.
There is nothing wrong with national pride and showing what your country has to offer. It is also very wise to use your own countries resources for things like this. It fosters support for the whole event. I would expect that from any country. Should China buy it’s team’s clothing from the US?
I don’t think so.
I don’t think that it is disingenuous at all to question this. Especially for people who do check labels and care about where the products that they purchase come from. It all adds up, and if enough folks did that there might be a few more jobs to be had in the US.

jaytkay's avatar

I think that the question is valid and has nothing to do with politics

I guess that might be true – if you don’t know who “Obama” is and you don’t know what “the DNC” is and you are unfamiliar with the term “donor” as a person who contributes to a political campaign.

True fact people: The President is not in charge of the Olympic team. The Olympic team is not a government entity. Seriously. You can look it up.

Cruiser's avatar

@jaytkay My only objection to your sentiments is no not “most” consumer products purchased by Americans is made in China. That percent is actually quite small and of any goods imported here over 50% of the cost of that good to you actually goes to US transportation costs and cost to bring it to market here in the US.

A total of 88.5% of U.S. consumer spending is on items made in the United States. ”

jaytkay's avatar

From the link: A total of 88.5% of U.S. consumer spending is on items made in the United States. This is largely because services, which make up about two-thirds of spending…

Services are not consumer products.

The numbers shown are lower than I expected though.

But we still buy huge amounts of Chinese goods.

Cruiser's avatar

@jaytkay Do read the whole article….even durables we buy of which represent the highest percent of things bought abroad are still a small percentage compared to US manufactured products. You have to remember to consider that even though we import these things, it still takes US labor, transportation, marketing and store fronts to sell these things of which makes upwards of 50% of the cost to you. It’s really not so bad and if you factor into all the good and services we subsequently export because of these trade agreements, it then becomes a good thing.

“Goods and services from China accounted for only 2.7% of U.S. personal consumption expenditures in 2010, of which less than half reflected the actual costs of Chinese imports.”

Buttonstc's avatar

If this were a Republican ploy to discredit Obama, they would have been on this from the jump.

AFAIK, this was RECENTLY brought to light by a member of the (perceived) “liberal media elite” from ABC who did a brief on- air piece on the Olympic clothing and asked one of the wearers to let her check the labels. Prior to that everybody on both sides of the political aisle were as clueless as the rest of us

And then the close up of the Made in China label.

And then all he’ll breaks loose with negative reactions from BOTH political parties.

Whoever keeps insisting that this is a Conservative plot to discredit Obama is reading way too much into this.

Dems are making an equal amount of negative noise about it. The opposition to Made in China is truly bipartisan.

jaytkay's avatar

@Cruiser Again you make the same mistake. Services are not consumer goods and that makes up most of the spending in the article you linked.

Americans buy enormous amounts of Chinese goods. You’re trying to say it’s not true?

The fact that some Americans make money off the trade is irrelevant. The fact that Americans also buy American goods is irrelevant.

Americans buy hundreds of billions of dollars in Chinese goods every year.

Cruiser's avatar

@jaytkay You are the one making the same mistake over and over and have to let go of this services bent….I said NOTHING of services in fact my last answer was specific to durables and imported durable goods…Sheesh!

wilma's avatar

__I think that the question is valid and has nothing to do with politics__

__I guess that might be true – if you don’t know who “Obama” is and you don’t know what “the DNC” is and you are unfamiliar with the term “donor” as a person who contributes to a political campaign.__

__True fact people: The President is not in charge of the Olympic team. The Olympic team is not a government entity. Seriously. You can look it up__

I said that I thought politics had nothing to do with it, and then you act like I’m stupid and don’t know who Obama is?
Then you say: __True fact people: The President is not in charge of the Olympic team. The Olympic team is not a government entity. Seriously. You can look it up__
Aren’t we saying the same thing? The president had nothing to do with it. Or do I misunderstand you?

jaytkay's avatar

@wilma I thought you meant the Fluther question had nothing to do with politics, when it specifically mentions Obama.

I see now you meant that the Olympic team uniforms had nothing to do with politics.

wilma's avatar

Yes @jaytkay that is what I meant, sorry if I wasn’t clear.

JLeslie's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer Great link. It doesn’t specifically say he gives all the uniforms for free, but it seems like that might very well be the case.

Meanwhile, the clothing is beautiful. I love the uniforms, I think they capture America well. As I think about it more I don’t care that the Olympic committee didn’t insist on made in America, I think in some ways it hurts RL more than the Olympic committee. I think people want an America brand to be made in America ideally.

However, I will say this, some things are made better in certain countries. It doesn’t really count for this case, but designers like Armani often buy denim and have it sewn in America, because we have a history of denim and great quality with that articukar fabric. Armani usually goes to China for silks. So, sometimes quality dictates where a designer has something made, not just price. The majority of his higher end items are made in Italy though.

rooeytoo's avatar

Maybe USA should start outsourcing its athletes to China for training too since they seem to do an excellent job for less money. If they’re wearing the uniforms, they might as well get the training too.

Buttonstc's avatar


Cute :)

I seem to remember that for one of the winter Olympics, clothing for American athletes was made by a Canadian company and everybody thought that was just great. I cant remember the year or the company name, but definitely Canadian

Everybody was really gangbusters for it and they were doing features on it for news broadcasts. Everybody was ordering hats and caps off of their website online and it was sold out in the tourist shops around Olympic Village. It was a unanimous hit with everybody. Well made, classy and sporty looking. Great winter jackets.

Not a mumblin’ word of complaint that it wasn’t made in America. Interesting.

rooeytoo's avatar

@Buttonstc -Perhaps because so many people think of anything asian produced as cheap and junky. But the fact is that much clothing produced in China can be of excellent quality. They could have bought uniforms from Walmart if they wanted manufactured in China! Now if Ralph donated it all my objections are worthless, but if someone paid him $2000 for his little horsey logo, then I think it is bad. If they had put the job up for bids in the USA, I am sure many smaller manufacturers would have loved to bid competitively just for the publicity, same as Ralphie. What I get a kick out of is that as soon as the uniforms are made public, no matter who made them originally you will be able to buy a Chinese replica for next to nothing!

JLeslie's avatar

@rooeytoo Asia is too broad, at least in America it is. Most peope believe Japanese products to be of quality here. In fact it is a thorn in the side of our auto manufacturers.

Ralph could very well have insisted on quality fabric and work, even out of China. It’s just most manufacturers are going for cheap when producing in China, and at least in America a lot of people seem to not really know the difference between good quality and crap. Not everything is Walmart quality that is produced in China. A lot of it is, but that has more to do with the vendor contravtngbwith the manufacturer there. China is following the specs.

rooeytoo's avatar

@JLeslie errrr, I think that is what I just said!

You can find some good quality at Walmart just as you can find poor quality with designer labels on it.

With regard to Japanese being preferable to Chinese, have a look at this article from 2006. Ain’t nothin sacred anymore!

JLeslie's avatar

@rooeytoo I was referring to your first line Perhaps because so many people think of anything asian produced as cheap and junky. And, admit to missing your comment that some items produced in China can be of quality. Your article is interesting. Looks like those Toyota’s made in China will be sold in China? We have a lot of Toyota plants here in America too.

I knew a Japanese-Australian woman who worked for a Japanese company and she said the pressure was unbelieveable for perfection and service to the customer. I have also heard that the trick in Chinese manufacturing is oversight. You have to have a company representative there all the time. I will assume Japan/Toyota will do so.

jca's avatar

Chinese labor practices have a bad reputation that most companies in the US don’t have. The US has labor laws that the Chinese don’t seem to have, or they may have but they don’t enforce. Recent articles in the news about Apple factories brought it to light, but it’s nothing new. Long hours, no breaks, very low wages, 7 day work weeks, it’s terrible. It’s a step above slave labor.

JLeslie's avatar

@jca Yes, that is an additional issue, the labor laws. Although, America still has some pretty crappy conditions, probably the worst for those who are illegal here, but at least we have laws, I am not sure if the Chinese have laws? Good question. No matter what an American company can insist on decent conditions for the employees, or turn a blind eye, the American company can still do the right thing, but they would have to have someone there watching the production.

My mom doesn’t trust Chinese products at all. I lean in that direction also when it comes to food, or things that can have chemicals that affect us. Medication produced there is also suspicious of not having enough or any effective ingredients in it. It’s scary. But, of course in America we have had drug manufacturing problems also.

jca's avatar

@JLeslie: Yes, I don’t trust their food or things that will come into contact with my food, such as plates (lead glazes on ceramic, for example). A few years ago when we had the Chinese dog food that killed a bunch of dogs here in the US, we found out that not only are many brands of “American” dog food manufactured in China, but many were good, fancy brands of dog food, not just cheap stuff. It was a big surprise that manufacturers of pet food here in the US get a lot of their food from China, and may just put it together here in the US. They also seem to constantly have issues with lead paint on their toys.

JLeslie's avatar

@jca I too don’t trust dishes and food. I know above I mentioned my mom, but I should have included myself. I am only so vigilant though. Like the dog food, there are probably things I consume that I am not aware are made in China. I question some of the chemicals used in shipping. Some products made in China, clothing, pillows, etc, the smell of the chemicals on them are outrageous. This is true for other countries also.

Cruiser's avatar

@JLeslie Yes the Chinese do now have labor laws and rising labor and legacy costs because of them. We have a family friend who had to close 3 businesses there because of these newer laws which raised his labor and overhead to where the advantage he enjoyed there using cheaper labor was now gone and he couldn’t compete with the newer cheap slave labor markets of Vietnam and Indonesia.

jca's avatar

@Cruiser: Laws are only as good as how well they’re enforced. The recent Apple sweat shop issues brought to light that even if they do have laws, if they’re not enforced, they do no good.

Cruiser's avatar

@jca True, but my point was simply on how the new added costs associated with these laws and regulations…enforced or not have had a direct impact on their labor costs.

jca's avatar

@Cruiser: Good point. I think, however, still with the added costs, their labor is still way way cheaper than our labor.

hiphiphopflipflapflop's avatar

The GOP and the Dems found a convenient shared target for a day as a distraction from bashing each other. I am pretty sure at least some uniform items for soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen are being made in China now; the one I am sure I heard this for is the Army beret, I am trying to come up with more data.

Cruiser's avatar

@hiphiphopflipflapflop I have to agree with your points as this was low hanging fruit for both sides to bash and I was a little surprised to see Harry Reid of all people to be so wound up over this. Hell they almost had to put him in restraints. I also think it may be much to do about nothing as this is not the first time and I don’t recall this level of brouhaha over the other times not the military items you mention.

jca's avatar

There was an article in the NY Times about this yesterday. They said for years the articles were made in Canada, and now RL got the contract for the past few years and the articles were made overseas, but this year, there’s an extra big fuss because they’re made in China.

The NY Times article also said that RL has in the past and will this year as well, retail the clothing and they referenced prices. I think the prices @rooeytoo gave were the total retail prices of the outfit, not what the Olympic committee is paying to clothe each athlete.

Buttonstc's avatar

Did they mention the name of the company? As I mentioned earlier, for Winter Olympics, the regular outfits as well as winter jackets and hats were done by a Canadian company but I can’t remember their name.

But EVERYBODY loved them and they were selling out of stuff right and left.

No complaints that I heard of.

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