The reaction was swift, and uncompromising when it was discovered that the uniforms to be worn by the athletes of the U.S. Olympic team were made in China. The Ralph Lauren press machine went into crisis communications mode issuing the statement,
Ralph Lauren promises to lead the conversation within our industry and our government to address the issue to increase manufacturing in the United States. We have committed to producing the Opening and Closing ceremony Team USA uniforms in the United States that will be worn for the 2014 Olympic Games.
But will they? Will this be a tipping point in the increasingly nationalistic rhetoric towards reinvesting in U.S. based apparel manufacturing? Will Americans, outraged by this perceived slap in the face, be willing to pay higher prices for goods manufactured with the ‘Made in USA’ label? Will our political leaders finally stop playing partisan games and put actions behind their words by working together?
All of this remains to be seen, but just maybe this most current Public Relations blunder will benefit those organizations that have been working for years to accomplish these things. Small, regional business incubators have been active for years in the shadows trying to help create U.S. jobs with in the fashion and apparel cluster in cities like Chicago, Washington D.C., Seattle and more.
These regional incubators have recently organized a National Coalition of Fashion Incubators, and have been advocating the issue of ‘Made in USA’ apparel jobs for over three years. Both individually and collectively. Perhaps this national spotlight will help propel their coalition to the forefront and help them affect real change with jobs creation in our great nation?
If you would like to support their efforts you can make a tax deductible donation to DCFashionFoundation.org, and note the National Fashion Incubator Coalition as recepient.