It's Olympic Season again, which means it's been two years since we wrote about our last disappointment in the US Olympic Uniforms. While the uniforms are stylish, they were are all seemingly made abroad.
The Olympics is all about bringing the country, and world, together. Through good sportsmanship, athletes and fans support one another's hard work, overcoming obstacles, enjoying wins, empathizing losses and feeling pride for one's respective home country.
This transcends athletes and fans, but also to everyone who touches the Olympics whether it is the Olympic Committee, the governments, travel companies, news media, and...uniform manufacturing.
It seems counter-intuitive to have our fellow citizens represent our nation in clothing that was made by foreigners. The United States has a textile industry, that for one is struggling, but more importantly, is known for their quality production. Why wouldn't we take this opportunity to put US manufacturing in the world's spotlight?
Our elected officials felt the same way because in 2012 they passed a bill called the 'Team USA Made in America Act of 2012' to require the US Olympic Committee to adopt a policy requiring Olympic uniforms, including accessories and shoes, worn by Americans to meet the Federal Trade Commission requirements for labeling as "Made in USA" or else be transparent about why any items are not Made in America and the justification as to why it was not possible.
Are you wondering if the Act of 2012 has been implemented? I don't think you'll be surprised at the answer, which is a simple, 'NO'. To quote Senator Harry Reid, “I am so upset,” Sen. Harry Reid told reporters that year, according to The Hill. “I think the [U.S.] Olympic Committee should be ashamed of themselves. I think they should be embarrassed. I think they should take all the uniforms, put them in a big pile and burn them and start all over again.” Reid added, “If all that they have to wear is nothing but a singlet with USA on it painted by hand, that’s what they should wear. We have people in the textile industry who are desperate for jobs.”
The US Olympic Committee has no requirements to the manufacturers that obtain the Olympic uniform contracts. All of that being said, I am pleasantly surprised at the increase in the amount of Made in America items that were made in America this Olympic season.
Ralph Lauren got a lot of heat during the last Olympics for not using US manufacturing. This time around, while it is difficult to obtain information on every single item, their famous 2018 Olympic heated jacket, the mittens, hat, bandana, bag, and team jeans were all Made in America. There is also an increased transparency overall for what is imported. They also partnered with well-known American shoe manufacturer, Allen Edmonds for the Olympic Team boots! Kudos Ralph Lauren!
Nike designed and manufactured stylish pieces of the US Olympic team's uniforms. Disappointingly, every single piece of Nike's Olympic Uniform styles is not Made in America, but is imported.
Nike was also responsible for the US Olympians Medal Stand uniforms, men's and women's hockey uniforms, all of which were not manufactured in the USA.
The North Face also supplied Olympic uniforms to the US team. Outerwear, base layers, accessories and footwear for the Freeski Team were all designed and manufactured by The North Face. Unfortunately, it seems that none of these items were manufactured in America.
My favorite Olympic uniforms of all for the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics were those designed and manufactured by Burton for the Snowboarding Events. The uniforms were inspired by an astronauts uniform, which I can see, only they are oh so much sleeker and hipper. I mean, it is Burton after all! Unfortunately, Burton does not manufacture in the USA. So, in less they made a special exception for the Olympic Collection, the uniforms most likely were imported. If they were made in the USA, this is surely something Burton would've been talking about.
The biggest surprise in the Olympic uniform production, was Khombu, a company that manufactures ski boots. Khombu has begun production in America, which is exciting and I for one will be seeking out Khombu when it's time to purchase boots next time to see if they have any American made winter boot options for me.
Under Armour is responsible for designing and manufacturing the much talked about speed skating uniforms. In case you forgot for a moment...most memorable for their silver circular crotch design. Under Armour produced the bobsled and skeleton teams. Under Armour does not manufacture in the US, and found no transparency about these uniforms, so unless they partnered with a local producer, the speed skating uniforms seem to be abroad as well. They should be clear about where exactly these items were actually manufactured.
Columbia is the company responsible for the design and production of the US mogul skiers. Again, there is no evidence that these uniforms were made in the US and the company has not been totally transparent. If anyone has additional information on the matter, please contact me.
US Olympic Committee: companies like Ralph Lauren and Khombu should be lauded for their production processes so that more of the American Olympic athlete's uniforms are indeed made by Americans. The other manufacturers making uniforms are small shops, but some of the largest, most well-known sportswear companies. The responsibility should be on them to make manufacturing decisions that we can be proud of.
It would behoove the US Olympic committee to require uniform manufacturers to show careful plans for improving their product life cycle. Wouldn't it be wonderful for the Olympics to help foster international relations, increase patriotism, support in our athletes and our community, and ultimately find a way to increase production of XXX in the USA.