Ralph Lauren just previewed what U.S. athletes will be wearing during the Olympic Games in Rio later this year, and the uniforms are, as kids today would say, NAGL. (That’s “not a good look,” if you’re a fellow old.) On the upside, everything will be made in the United States. On the down? Team U.S.A. looks like a yachting party that lost its way en route to a game of lawn tennis with Muffy and Topper. At the Hamptons. On Fourth of July weekend. But let’s focus on the positives. As Rancourt & Co., one of Ralph Lauren’s 40-plus U.S. partners, notes in a behind-the-scenes video, the fashion house’s patronage has been a boon to domestic businesses like the Lewiston, Maine–based shoemaker, which was able to expand its staff from 20 to 65. “We have 40 years of experience out on the floor right there; I’m a fourth generation,” said Tina Charest, a footwear pattern specialist with the family-owned company. “We make great products, and the people really need to have that oomph behind them.”
In a similar fashion, Ralph Lauren has tasked Rochester, NY’s Hickey Freeman, a 450-person-strong company that already churns out about 100,000 articles of clothing every year, with tailoring Team U.S.A.’s dark blue blazers and white chino shorts.
This not only bodes well for the local community, but the whole of Rochester, as well.
“Rochester was known as the capital of fine tailoring in the country,” said Jeffrey Diduch, vice president of technical design at Hickey Freeman. “We may not have had the same production levels coming out of New York or Chicago, but it was really known for the best quality, and we’re really proud to maintain that tradition and that heritage.”
All of this is a far cry from the London Games four years prior, when members of Congress criticized the U.S. Olympic Committee—and Ralph Lauren—for manufacturing the uniforms in China. (The “too French” berets only added insult to injury.)
“I think they should take all the uniforms, put them in a big pile and burn them and start all over again,” then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told ABC News in 2012. “If they have to wear nothing but a symbol that says U.S.A. on it, painted by hand, that is what they should wear.”
As an additional mea culpa, the company donated $500,000 to the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s Fashion Manufacturing Initiative, an investment fund aimed at revitalizing New York City’s garment industry.
Fast-forwarding to present, swimmers Ryan Lochte and Haley Anderson, and wrestler Jordan Burroughs modeled the new men’s and women’s uniforms on NBC’s Today Show this morning.
And while the USOC press release described the looks as “crisp, sporty, and classic,” we prefer the term droll. Very droll.
Wouldn’t you say, old bean?