Byline: Associated Press
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — While lawmakers in Congress fumed about Ralph Lauren-designed uniforms for the U.S. Olympic team being made in China, a Philadelphia company outfitted the men’s and women’s U.S. Olympic rowing teams for the Summer Games in London.
The company, Boathouse Sports, was founded in 1985 by John Strotbeck III, a rower in the 1984 and 1988 Summer Olympics. “The reality is that we can make stuff in this country — maybe not quite as cheaply, but there are benefits,” he said. “The work we’re doing for the athletes is almost custom tailored … and we got a lot of input about what they wanted.”
There’s nothing new about U.S. Olympians wearing apparel made overseas. Strotbeck recalls wearing China-made gear when he was an Olympian.
This year, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have called the move particularly egregious considering that the economic downturn has left thousands of garment workers nationwide without jobs.
Boathouse Sports has outfitted Team U.S.A.’s approximately 50 rowers, plus coaches and support staff, with clothing from one-piece rowing “unisuits” to fleece and all-weather jackets, pants and warm-up suits. The company also makes apparel for lacrosse, basketball, soccer, football, track and other sports for high schools and colleges nationwide.
A spokesman for President Barack Obama pointed out that the U.S. Olympic Committee is privately funded, so uniforms are not a government matter. The spokesman added that the president does believe in the “high quality of American-made products … and that includes American-made clothing.”