Olympic Uniforms Are Made in USA -- and Don't You Forget It
Team USA unveiled its uniforms for the Winter Olympics opening ceremony, and for the love of stars and stripes, they’re hideous.
It’s no Norwegian curling team, but the Americans’ uniforms for the games in Sochi, Russia, are loud and proud and scream “Made in the USA.” The theme of the day is overkill: The cardigans feature an American flag on the left shoulder in addition to stars and red and white stripes spackled all over the body. The website selling the official apparel features the words “Made in the USA” directly above a “Made in America” tab.
Designer Ralph Lauren clearly wanted to get that point across after the controversy he faced two years ago when it was revealed that Team USA’s (admittedly dapper) uniforms were actually made in China. That prompted outrage from fans and politicians, with Congress introducing an act requiring all uniforms going forward to be American-made.
Lauren then agreed to stay away from Chinese manufacturing for Olympics apparel. There was a slight mishap with some mittens sold on the U.S. Olympic Committee website for fundraising purposes, but it appears the designer is making good -- really, really good -- on his promise for the athletes' official apparel. According to USA Today, the tacky cardigans are “a patchwork of American craftsmanship,” made of wool from Oregon that was spun in North Carolina and Pennsylvania and finally knit in California. It’s the new frontier of Olympic uniforms.
Homespun haute couture doesn’t come cheap. The sweaters sell for a whopping $598, though you can pick up a belt for “only” $75. The rest of the collection is thankfully much more muted and more affordable, at least by comparison.
Lauren’s son David told USA Today that the designs were inspired by the American tradition of patchwork quilts, but that seems to have backfired, both aesthetically and on principle. That same patchwork philosophy is meant to represent the different regions of Russia in the equally horrendous uniforms for Sochi volunteers.