(edited and expanded from my facebook posting yesterday)
I've actually been avoiding this discussion - because one's views rarely improve upon the silence when the subject of politics comes up - but, maybe I can chime in. I worked for Ralph for almost 15 years - from 1988 until 2002 . . . and have seen a great deal of his business change and evolve over that time period as well as in the years since I moved on. I can clearly remember when the entire company was owned directly and uniquely by Mr. Lauren. Those were the days when we had huge decorative budgets, opened fabulous, glamorous stores - hell, we even had amazing floral budgets to make shopping in the stores an experience. Then the company went public. We, overnight, became answerable to stockholders. And the business of retailing changed.
Even ten years ago - while I was still with Polo - most of the company's manufacturing took place overseas. The globalization of the clothing industry was well underway. The higher price-point items produced either here in the US - or in England and Italy . . . the lower price-point items in China and elsewhere. And frankly, that same division of manufacturing exists with most every other major designer and retailer in this country. That is just the current landscape of manufacturing.
You might not like that fact - and I can understand being disappointed that items for our Olympic teams were produced outside our borders - but, the vitriolic response to this situation feels seriously misplaced. The accusation of "traitor" feel more than just a little hyperbolic. Instead of cries that we should “Burn the uniforms” (and it’s always worrisome when Harry Reid and Donald Trump are in agreement about anything- lol) - I'd much rather the situation open a conversation about re-engaging manufacturing here in the US. The truly disappointing realization is that we, as a nation, are consumers. Not manufactures.
And as far as Ralph’s involvement in all of this - it’s not as if he had promised to produce these garments in the US - and then maliciously took the orders to China under the cover of darkness. Ralph Lauren manufactures clothing in China. The Olympic uniforms for the last several years were manufactured in China. As I understand it, these are clothes that are privately funded. And in response to those paying the bill for these uniforms - they should be produced at a competitive price.
I’m ALL for national pride. But, you should most likely take a good long look at the American flag wafting in the breeze in your front yard. Most likely, it was made in China too.