Ralph Lauren Corp. released this statement in response to a whirlwind of criticism about the opening ceremony uniforms it designed for Team USA for the upcoming Olympics being made in China:
For more than 45 years Ralph Lauren has built a brand that embodies the best of American quality and design rooted in the rich heritage of our country. We are honored to continue our long-standing relationship with the United States Olympic Committee in the 2014 Olympic Games by serving as an Official Outfitter of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams. Ralph Lauren promises to lead the conversation within our industry and our government to address the issue to increase manufacturing in the United States. We have committed to producing the Opening and Closing ceremony Team USA uniforms in the United States that will be worn for the 2014 Olympic Games.
The slew of attacks from the fashion community and others (Senate majority leader Harry Reid suggested the uniforms be burned) has once again thrust the topic of Made-in-the-USA goods into the spotlight. But is it really that surprising the uniforms weren't manufactured in the United States? It may have been a bigger shock if they had been, given the trend of outsourcing work to keep costs low, speed up production time and a handful of other reasons.
China's Xinhua News Agency labeled the uniform laments from U.S. government officials "hypocritical" and "irresponsible," the Associated Press reported, because of the United States' reliance on China's economy and industries. "If there is anything that should be burned, it should really be the hypocrisy of the U.S. politics," the agency said.
Ralph Lauren is by no means the first to receive negative publicity for choosing overseas production. Earlier this year, after a fire trapped nearly 30 workers at a garment factory in Bangladesh, ABC News called out Tommy Hilfiger for not doing more to improve work conditions there. Labor groups reported "dangerous conditions" at the factory, according to ABC News, such as locked gates and inferior wiring.
Ralph Lauren didn't intentionally deceive anybody. The brand didn't say the clothes were home-grown, and in today's fashion world, if a designer doesn't make a point to stress that apparel is American-made, the public can usually assume that it isn't. Nowadays, the union label is often touted as an extra feature, like a reversible jacket or a convertible wrap dress that can double as a skirt or a blouse.
The fact that so many high-profile people thought otherwise suggests that perhaps we're not as aware of where our clothes come from -- and where U.S. jobs have gone -- as we think we are. Thank you, Ralph Lauren, for the reminder.
New home for Hip'tique in Shadyside: The women's clothing and accessories boutique has relocated from Ellsworth Avenue to 808 Ivy St. Hours are 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday through Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. Information: www.hiptiquepa.com or 412-361-5817.
Runway Bootcamp 101 workshop: Learn the ins and outs of successful modeling at a bootcamp for male and female models of all shapes and sizes organized by iModel System, a coaching program started by model and Pittsburgh Fashion Week executive director Miyoshi Anderson. The event will cover runway walk tips, skin care and personal style. Women should bring high heels they feel comfortable walking in and wear form-fitting clothing with hair pulled back and a natural face. Comfortable shoes, jeans and a T-shirt are recommended for men.
"Project Runway" marks 10 seasons of aspiring designers: A fresh crop of designers is set to showcase their skills for a panel of fashion elites when the reality TV show premieres 9 p.m. Thursday on Lifetime. Can't get enough of Heidi Klum and the gang? Commemorate 10 seasons of fashion forays and faux pas with the new book "Project Runway: The Show that Changed Fashion" by Eila Mell. It has hundreds of behind-the-scenes photos and interviews with judges and former contestants, as well as an introduction by Ms. Klum. Find it for $15.67 at www.barnesandnoble.com.
Stuart Weitzman to bring back handbag line: After an almost two-year hiatus, Stuart Weitzman will relaunch its handbag collection with styles for fall. The line of feminine bags is made in Italy and retails for $398 to $1,150. Look for it starting in August at Stuart Weitzman retailers and at www.stuartweitzman.com.fashion
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