Dressing up the Winter Olympics

Team Canada hockey jerseys for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Photo: Hockey Canada press handout

Team Canada hockey jerseys for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Photo: Hockey Canada press handout

Ah, the Olympics. Where to start? The larger complaint is familiar: the dreams and energy of athletes feed a tightly-controlled monopoly – which throws a mega-party, for which host countries foot horrendous bills. I suppose one defense would be that many millions seem to like the status quo – so give the people what they want.

Love the games or not, the merchandizing push for the upcoming Sochi Winter Olympics is on. This past week organizers from the U.S. and Canada unveiled team uniforms for the 2014 games, amid much discussion about sourcing.

The Canadian gear is once again being marketed by the iconic Hudson’s Bay Company (est. 1670). HBC is now American-owned. But ignore that detail in favor of this also contentious issue: “where is the stuff made?” As CBC reported, amends have been made for so much of the product line coming out of China for the 2010 winter games. This time around:

Most of the goods are manufactured in Canada, except for the luggage, backpack, bracelet, poncho, mittens and head bands.

Here’s a photo montage of Canadian Winter Olympic uniforms over the years, also by way of CBC.

The U.S. attire will once again be by Ralph Lauren, which was the target of withering criticism after U.S. uniforms at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London were mostly manufactured in China. As reported by Forbes, this time the tags will say “made in the U.S.A”:

“We have worked incredibly hard as a company to go across America to find the best partners to help us produce the Olympic uniforms at the highest quality for the best athletes in the world,” said company executive David Lauren.

And it wasn’t easy. Lauren said he used more than 40 vendors, “from ranchers in the rural West to yarn spinners in Pennsylvania to sewers in New York’s Garment District.”

Although it’s a mix of summer and winter games, here’s a retrospective of  U.S. Olympic uniforms.

Of course, when it comes to the Olympics, there’s no shortage of controversies.

Do you care about how the uniforms look? Should it matter where they are made?

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