Olympic Committee Defends Ralph Lauren As 'Iconic American Company'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The athletes representing the United States at the Olympics may be from the USA, but what they’re supposed to wear for the games is made in China and that is sparking outrage among politicians.

Now, there’s a push to make a big change and some local officials are getting involved.

Ralph Lauren touts on its website that it’s the proud outfitter of team USA, but not everybody is happy with the company’s outsourcing.

WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb Speaks With Sen. Menendez

Sen. Robert Menendez said he is appalled by the U.S. Olympic Committees decision.

“I don’t get it. I simply don’t understand why the Olympic Committee couldn’t find or didn’t look for an American company,” Menendez told WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb.

Menendez said if the committee was running into trouble finding a U.S. company to make the apparel, they should give him a call.

“I got some great companies here in New Jersey who would turn it around real quick,” he said.

Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid took the criticism a bit further.

“I think they should take all the uniforms, put them in a big pile and burn them and start all over again,” Reid said.

“You would think they’d know better,” said House Speaker John Boehner.

There may, in fact, be an opportunity to start all over again.

Senator Chuck Schumer is also calling for the Olympic Committee to instead have the clothes made in the USA.

Schumer is touting a Rochester-based company, Hickey Freeman, that he said is both willing and able to produce new uniforms before the games begin on July 27.

The Olympic committee hasn’t said much about the controversy other than issuing a statement.

“We’re proud of our partnership with Ralph Lauren, an iconic American company, and excited to watch America’s finest athletes compete at the upcoming games in London,” the statement read.

But free market advocates said making clothes overseas is far from surprising and that most clothing sold in the U.S. is made elsewhere.

“When companies are able to outsource, they are able to produce most competitively, they are able to attend to their costs and when they can do that, then they can deliver better quality, greater variety at lower prices for U.S. consumers,” said Dan Ikenson of the CATO Institute

The prices though on the items worn for the opening ceremony certainly won’t be inexpensive.

The blazer will cost nearly $800 dollars and the beret will cost $55.

What do you make of the controversy?  Should the uniforms be re-made in the USA?