Made in America- An Olympic Sized Problem?
Four years ago, Ralph Lauren had the USA Olympic team uniforms made in China. Since China was the host that year, everyone seemingly wanted to embrace only the positive of this rapidly changing country.
But now the same story became front page news and Congress broke out in debate as the London 2012 Team USA uniforms were again produced in China. Hickey Freeman, one of our beloved vendors, immediately stepped in and offered to make the uniforms in their Rochester, New York, factory.
As the Washington Post noted, “American designers such as Lauren choose whether they are beholden to the dollar-conscious American consumer or the unemployed American worker. It’s no secret that the cost of manufacturing locally is often more expensive than overseas. And in a climate in which Target partners with luxury designers and fast-fashion chains such as H&M and Forever 21 dominate the retail space, designers often choose to remain competitive by manufacturing abroad. The American Apparel and Footwear Association says that 98?percent of clothing sold in the United States is manufactured overseas.”
And the designs themselves didn’t exactly garner rave reviews either- Celebrity stylist Robert Verdi said to the New York Daily News, “There’s something that Ralph does that often times can look costume-y.?.?.It was a combination of things to me: rich, British private school kids.?.?.and Mr. Howell from ‘Gilligan’s Island.’ I wasn’t sure if they were really chic crossing guards or Olympians”. Ralph Lauren responded by saying they will produce the 2014 Team USA uniforms in the US.
But they added, “Ralph Lauren promises to lead the conversation within our industry and our government to address the issue to increase manufacturing in the United States.”
And isn’t that really the point? Politics aside, we need to have this conversation and if this is the catalyst, then I think it is a great thing.
HMX Group President and Chief Creative Officer Joseph Abboud took the same approach. In this live interview with Fox Business, he pointed out “Ralph Lauren is a great designer. I think it is a bigger issue than what is happening just for the olympic uniforms. I think it is about a sea of change where we are understanding made in america is something really special.
Abboud goes on to state, “[It is important to] having the consumers understand that made in America is great and it is not JUST Made in America, but it is Made in America with GREAT QUALITY. You are going to see more and more designers focusing on this very important fact.”
This is why I make my signature clothing line- David’s Master Collection- in New York City. I can control the quality and ensure everything is done to my standards. My decisions are not based on who has the lowest production prices, but on who can deliver the best product. As a small retailer, I can set a lower price to make Davelle more competitive in the marketplace.
My clothing is Made in America because of the consistency, and commitment to excellence delivered by my studio. In return, I get a finished product that is worth more because it is of much higher quality.
I am so passionate about this topic and proud of my American made garments! I hope Mr Abboud is right, and the conversation does continue, both in the industry, and with my own customers. Ask me more about made in America the next time you are in the store!