Updated 07/13/2012 09:22 PM
'Made in China' Team USA Olympic uniforms creates stir in textile industry
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The official Team USA Olympic opening uniforms are creating a national stir, because the uniforms were not made in America. The China-made red, white and blue garments have legislators, textile workers and many Americans up in arms about the decision.
For textile workers such as Charles Heilig, this news was a big surprise.
"It's disturbing, and it's really sad that the US Olympic Committee made the choice that they made," said Heilig, president of Parkdale Mills.
Especially since the Tar Heel state's lost tens of thousands of jobs in the textile industry the past decade. Heilig and his peers want the public to take a closer look at their labels, and take pride in where something's made.
"The finest uniforms in the world rest on the backs of our military soldiers. Those are made right here in the United States. Within 200 miles of this location, there's cotton production, there's spinning, there's knitting and weaving, dying and finishing, cut and sew. The people and the jobs are here and we're ready,” said Heilig.
It's creating a stir with not only textile workers, but the general public, and Olympians such as Nick Symmonds.
Symmonds tweeted, "Our Ralph Lauren outfits for the Olympic opening ceremonies were made in China. So, um, thanks China. #patriotism.”
U.S. Olympic Committee Spokesperson Patrick Sandusky released this statement:
"Unlike most Olympic teams around the world, the U.S. Olympic Team is privately funded and we're grateful for the support of our sponsors," USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky said in a statement. "We're proud of our partnership with Ralph Lauren, an iconic American company, and excited to watch America's finest athletes compete at the upcoming Games in London,” said Sandusky.
But Heilig would like to see people take a stand.
"Some of the athletes take some initiative and go find some apparel made in the United States and wear that in the opening ceremonies,” said Heilig.
And he says if it has to do with the United States, let's make it in America.
"We have a lot of people who are going to be watching the games, and we would've loved the opportunity to be a part,” said Heilig.
Outfits for the Olympic and Paralympic team closing ceremonies, as well as some casual clothing, are coming from Ralph Lauren as well.
July 13, 2012
Statement from Ralph Lauren Corporation:
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 longstanding relationship with the United States Olympic Committee in the 2014 Olympic Games by serving as an Official Outfitter of the US Olympic and Paralympic teams. Ralph Lauren promises to lead the conversation within our industry an our government addressing the issue of increasing manufacturing in the United States and had committed to producing the Opening and Closing ceremony Team USA uniforms that will be worn for the 2014 Olympic Games.