Looks like American Apparel may be designing the uniforms for some proud red, white, and blue-wearing Olympians...who aren't American. In a conversation about clothing manufacturing and national pride that has come to a head today because of the Ralph Lauren "Made in China" US Olympic uniform controversy, Dov Charney has now thrown his voice into the melee.
The New York Post is reporting that American Apparel is apparently in talks to design Russia's Olympic uniforms. Russia and AA have reportedly been talking since 2011 about the US-based retailer manufacturing Russia's 2014 winter Olympics uniforms. And why is this happening, you ask? Charney told the paper, “[Russian Olympic team representatives] said they didn’t want anything that was made in China.” Charney told the Post that the line for Russia would include both uniforms and merchandise. We reached out to American Apparel for more information, and a rep confirmed that they were still in talks at this time.
But it turns out that Charney wants to help with America's uniforms, too. An American Apparel rep made the point of telling us:
The American Apparel factory makes more than 50 million garments a year and that isn't all for our stores. A huge part of the company's business is wholesale and private label--we can basically make anything for anyone. Our prices are completely competitive, especially when you factor in the quality control and speed to market. American Apparel could start working on uniforms today and have them in London within 7 days. That's what vertical integration is about.
And Charney's even gone so far as to offer his factory to Ralph Lauren to help turn around uniforms in time for London, the rep tells us. We doubt that it will happen, because just think of the backlash if Ralph Lauren were to throw away (or, ahem, burn) hundreds of already-produced uniforms.
Charney semi-ranted to the Post about manufacturing in China, and he thinks the US has become complacent about importing. “The banking oligarchy wrote off a US textile industry that was ailing in the late 1990s,” he said. “Now, the industry is completely disposed to importing — they don’t know any other way."
It really sounds like policy makers and manufacturers need to re-look at manufacturing in the USA. What do you think of this development?