On the Olympic Fashion "Faux Pas"

The Olympics are something I really love watching.  I don't know if it's because of how nonathletic I am, or what, but I just gasp in suspense watching these all stars compete in these incredible feats.  And what patriotism it sparks for us!  And now of course, to spoil the mood, lawmakers are apparently infuriated about the U.S. Olympic Uniforms being made in China.

 The uniforms for the U.S. Olympic athletes are the all American red, white, and blue, but made in China. That has members of Congress fuming.

"I am so upset. I think the Olympic committee should be ashamed of themselves. I think they should be embarrassed. I think they should take all the uniforms, put them in a big pile and burn them and start all over again," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

First of all, I'd like for all of Congress to take a step back and check to see where their suits, shoes, iPads, computers, pens and day to day items are made.  Are all of Harry Reid's suits 100% made in the U.S.A., designed by American designers?  Curious.

Second of all, why exactly is it that these manufacturing jobs are not in the United States?  I think the Cato Institute answers that well:

But free market advocates, such as the Cato Institute, say none of this is surprising.

Globalization means manufacturing companies will be drawn to countries where the costs are lowest, according to Daniel J. Ikenson of the Cato Institute.

You really can't come out in an uproar about something like this if you're part of the problem.

I think it would be great if the Olympic uniforms were made in the U.S.A. but I think before we get up in arms about them being made in China we ought to remember where the majority of the products we use come from.


The Cato Institute put out a great column on the matter.

In the typical production supply chain for consumer products, of which apparel production is a good example, the higher-value, pre-manufacturing activities like designing, engineering, and branding, and post-manufacturing activities like marketing, warehousing, transporting, and retailing happen in the United States, while the mostly lower-end manufacturing and assembly activities take place abroad. In the end, the final product is a collaborative effort, with the majority of the value accruing to U.S. workers, firms, and shareholders.

So, what exactly is un-American about Chinese-made Olympic uniforms? Nearly half of the clothing in America's closets is made in China, and almost all of the rest is made in other foreign countries. With a very few exceptions, we simply don't cut and sew clothing much in the United States anymore.

But we design clothing here. We brand clothing here. We market and retail clothing here.

The apparel industry employs plenty of Americans, just not in the cutting and sewing operations that our parents and grandparents endured, working long hours for low wages.