July 14th, 2012
03:25 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Forget uniforms, U.S. Olympians would be better off 'naked'

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

Just days after the U.S. Olympic team's opening ceremony uniforms were unveiled, it was also revealed that American designer Ralph Lauren's creations were, in fact, not born in the U.S.A. To our readers, the iconic partnership of Lauren with Team U.S.A. seemed like a guarantee that America's best athletes would be sporting homegrown threads as they represented their country at the London games.

However, this is also not the first time we've encountered mother country disconnect when it comes to Olympic uniforms. Australia's uniforms were made in China, and in 2008, Canadian uniforms came from China, as well. In 2002, American athletes sported berets to the Winter Games in Salt Lake City made by Canadian company Roots.

Our readers took to the comments with outrage that addressed not only the shock factor of the news itself, but what it meant for declining American manufacturing, supporting our own country on multiple platforms and even just how un-American the uniforms appeared in the released photo. Some expressed a little more negativity when it comes to an outsourcing attitude that has developed across the country.

One commenter echoed what many readers felt initially upon seeing the headline.

Ken Ewan: What the hell is happening in the United States? Where is our national pride? Make it happen! It's no wonder we are losing out on the trade deficit with China!

Like the decline of the American automotive industry, readers felt that this was only one thread in the unraveling state of our textile industry. We even released a list of products made in America, which commenters are also adding to, to show how people can still "buy American."

Our commenters were quick to point out their knee-jerk reaction to the style of the uniforms themselves - no matter where they were made.

Wyckette: Ralph Lauren may be an "iconic" American designer, but he certainly isn't "modern."  These outfits look like they could have been worn when Gatsby was written.  The committee needs to find a designer who will be a "supporter" (does that mean donates the uniforms free-of-charge?) and who can produce a design which reflect the effort the athletes exert to win and the nation they represent.  Oh, and someone who can find a manufacturer in America who can produce these for less than $1600 per uniform.

Cat Nippy: I don't have any problem with a "classic" look. It certainly beats what passes for fashion today. But I have to admit I don't care for these uniforms. I think they could have done a lot better–something updated yet classic.

Others found the uniforms to be un-American and, well, just completely unattractive.

Beth Pinney: I usually do not comment, but my first response to those uniforms–Team USA looks like a bunch of fight attendants from the 1960s!

GUNGY: I don't care where they are made, they look French and that's just not cool.

55Buckeye: I've seen berets worn in the Olympics many times . . . how many times have they donned a good ole' fashion American baseball cap? We've even lost our American "heritage."

Ronald McCormick: Not to mention bad style. Makes our athletes look like pompous aristocrats from Europe.

Bob_RR: They look like Biff and Jody just left the yacht club tor tennis.  All they need is an ascot and a captain's hat.

Some readers offered creative solutions to keep Olympians from having the wear the uniforms.

Love4USA: I think our Olympians should refuse to wear these insults, put on their every day clothes and walk out there looking like Americans and then take all of the gold.

Penelope Elaine Smith: GO NAKED...the only way to guarantee "MADE IN AMERICA"

Snowdogg: Have an open design competition for the next Olympics and get some fresh, contemporary looks

tommie451: Those blazers look like garbage. Double-breasted? Plus those berets? Who is running this? Think the US Olympic Team should just go casual and forget about it. Granted every stitch will be foreignly crafted. But at least they can walk with dignity and not shame.

Love4USA: Heck, if they're going to dress like that why not get some Navy dress uniforms over there and have them wear those?  I'm sure there are plenty and in enough sizes for everybody.

Several commenters reacted to the fact the U.S. Olympic Committee promised to deliver on American-made uniforms for 2014, but stated that they wouldn't be able to fix this error in the days leading up to the Olympics in London.

Love4USA: You can't tell me at least an effort to make new uniforms and get them to London in 13 days is impossible.  Lauren needs to do the right thing and make this happen and foot the entire bill.

Reddog9500: Now it's up to American clothing manufacturers (the ones who are left, that is) to step forward and say:  We can make them in time for the London Games.

Richard Sparda: Considering these unis only are worn for the opening ceremony it seems like there would be some company out their willing to provide made in the USA uniforms on such short notice. Who cares if they aren't made by Ralph Lauren, maybe this is a wake-up call that America needs to start supporting local companies instead of overseas slave labor.

Sandra Smith: When you see the awards shows....the next day designers have the gowns duplicated and are selling them cheap......Don't tell me the government or some private organization can't whip a new line in a week...

A common thread in the comments also reflected the "you're just realizing this?" mentality of many commenters. They encouraged the people who were expressing their outrage to check the labels on their clothing and see where it was made.

Germanicus: If they want to look like Americans, then they should wear the "made in China" uniforms. The rest of us in the States are wearing the same thing.

Ella Jay: honestly i am shocked at how few people every bother to turn something over, or look at the label, and see where it was made. i don't care if it does have an american label on it, all you have to do is glance right about that for 'made in china' in many languages. it is difficult, but not impossible, to not 'buy chinese' but it shouldn't be that hard for us as citizens to find homemade things. i went to yosemite last year, and went into the general store. i could not find one thing in that store – in an american national park – that was made in america. i would have bought everything made here. it was 90% china and the other %10 was like, pakistan, india ... iran. i am not kidding. wake up, people

Stephen: I find this whole discussion absolutely absurd. The fact is that, the uniforms were made in china to save money. If we had them made in the USA we would have been forced to borrow more money from china to pay the USA clothing manufacturers. SO whats the difference?

Rubenreyes: I find it silly to make this scandal about uniforms. On the one hand, what about all the other stuff that athletes will be using? Is anybody checking where is it manufactured? And on the other hand, stop whining about apparel and footwear manufacturing in the US! Really? Is that the future of employment generation? Focus on education! Focus on high-end product manufacturing! Focus on professional services and innovation! Those are the jobs that can sustain the American way of living, that will keep America ahead, and that will provide job security.

Christina16: How can Americans not know Ralph Lauren's clothing is made in China? Don't anyone read the inside labels? Just because Ralph Lauren is American doesn't mean his products are made here. I'm an American and I knew it was made in China as are most other American brands including Calvin Klein, Donna Karan. Check out your department stores like Macy, JC Penney or even Walmart. Bet you 99% is made in China.

One commenter felt that this scandal was a drop in the bucket compared to local U.S. industry woes.

couldbe49: The best response to this revelation is to do nothing. Why? Because any action taken about the uniforms will divert attention away from the reality of what has happened to the U.S. textile industry, and will do nothing about repatriating the jobs lost by outsourcing.
The real message here is that the American middle/working class people have been sold out by Ralph Lauren and their ilk.. A few American made uniforms will not change that.

Readers also reacted sharply to the idea of the Polo horse logo, and corporate sponsorship, being given such noticeable play on Olympic apparel.

Karyn Boldys: Corporate logos should be banned from Olympic uniforms; they degrade the true spirit of the Olympic games. Our athletes should not be used as billboards to increase corporate profits.

Beth Pinney: Just watched the video clip. Ralph Lauren, an "Iconic American Company", has put their logo (about 2x the size as the American Flag) on the left side of the outfit and the American Flag on the right side of the outfit. So, when our athletes sing our National Anthem they will be putting their right hand over the RL Polo Icon and NOT the American Flag–now, that is a slap in the face! The cost of the Ralph Lauren uniform for each man (don't know about the women)–$1609.50! Really! And that includes the white shoes! Really! I'm assuming that's a good size tax write-off for RL?

And another common thread? Boycotting Ralph Lauren.

canexan: Boycott Lauren. Shoot the horse.

Bambianne: Sorry  Ralph, but this fashionista will buy nothing you make ever again and no one else should either. They don't make Chanel and Fendi in Chinese factories, so RL needs to get with the program.

Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Or sound off on video via CNN iReport, like Jannet Walsh, who shared her view that there is a definite "manufacturing jobs need in U.S."

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

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Filed under: China • Olympics • Overheard on CNN.com • Sports • U.S.
soundoff (312 Responses)
  1. army uniforms aren't made in china

    yeah, a lot of our stuff is made in china, but the army actually utilizes a company that employs blind americans to make most of our stuff. uniforms, pens, equipment, etc. basic stuff. i know some stuff is made in other countries, but the government has a contract with that company to make our stuff.

    August 10, 2012 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
  2. sanderdog

    Low cost goods imported seem like a good idea allowing more people to have more stuff, at least for the first few years. Now, seems to me we have reached thepoint where the original customers have been negatively impacted by the over outsourcing of jobs to foreign contries. This is at the point where the US market for foreign stuff will not grow and will start falling as people out of work or working at lowerr pay will reduce buying. At some point we have to consider that TARIFFS are required to fix inequities in currency and in the abuse of labor. We have tight enviro and labor law which "forces" manufacturing out of the US. Actually we are outsourcing pollution to unregulated countires and in some cases to sweat shops for labor. WE must buy American First even when it costs more. WE must demand equality in enviro and labor standards with other countries or block their products. The manufacturiong of housing was supporting the economy to a very great degree. When the housing bubble burst all that stopped. I think it exposed our problem with low cost labor and imports. Time to again become the manufacturer of all things. To Hlel with China and all the rest.

    August 13, 2012 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
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