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IATSE Offers to Rebuild Olympic Uniforms in the U.S.

So most of the world has probably heard that Team USA will be wearing uniforms “made in China” for the 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony in London, and the big question is…why??

Say what you will about the uniform designs by Ralph Lauren – opinions are mixed and range from “they look too European” to “they look like school uniforms” to “they look classy”.

Team USA Uniforms
for the 2012 Olympics in London
photo from Ralph Lauren

I, personally, have complained that fashion designers have a bad habit of designing things that look rather costumey.  And I’ve often wished that a Hollywood costume designer would be given the job of designing something like this – costumers are trained to capture a character or a feeling using wardrobe.

Given the chance, I believe that a professional costumer would create something that would embody the American spirit & patriotism we want to see worn by those representing our great nation (without looking like a costume).

I’ve also always said that a costumer would have the contacts to build something in the United States. The “Made in the USA” label is very important to those who are members of IATSE (the film & theatre union).

Now that a stink has been raised about the uniforms not being made in our own country, I was excited to receive an email from IATSE this afternoon. In it, IATSE International President Matthew D. Loeb was quoted offering the services of the IATSE wardrobe crew to rebuild the uniforms for Team USA. (I’m a member of film Local 484 here in Texas.) The memo concluded with this paragraph:

“Our people design and build costumes for all sorts of events and entertainment and have done so since 1893.” With the Olympics opening day ceremonies scheduled just two weeks away in London, President Loeb added, “Members of the IATSE create all types of clothing under the tightest of schedules and we welcome the opportunity to be engaged by the U.S. Olympic Committee to help produce these uniforms with skilled American workers. We are extremely proud of our U.S. Olympic team as they represent us in the London games, but we want them also to be proud to wear uniforms that were made by workers in their own homeland.”

I’m not sure if he was offering a complete redesign or just a rebuild of Ralph Lauren’s with a “Made in the USA” label, but it’s true it can be done – I’ve been one of those last minute stitchers on shows before.

I don’t know if anyone will actually take him up on the offer, but wouldn’t it be interesting if they did?

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12 responses to “IATSE Offers to Rebuild Olympic Uniforms in the U.S.

  1. Karen July 13, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    What a very interesting perspective on this issue, Brooke. Thanks so much for sharing your insight and knowledge!

  2. caprimontgomery July 14, 2012 at 2:53 am

    It does look more like school uniforms. I agree that the uniforms should have been made in the USA. They’re representing the USA and given the fact that there are companies that still make clothes here it would have been nice if they were able to support the USA in more than just the sports, but in the apparel too.

    • Brooke July 14, 2012 at 10:42 am

      The socks are what make them look so uniformy on the ladies. Ick.

      And I’m not terribly fond of the beret when it is worn like that (and I wear berets all the time in the winter!).

  3. tracihutton July 14, 2012 at 10:21 am

    As a costumer, I will include my 2 cents here….I agree they should have been made in the USA. I want to also know, where were the opening outfits that Ralph Lauren designed for the last Olympics made? I would guess that they were not made in the USA either, but where was that uproar? Maybe something should have been said long ago. Or is it that it has to with only China? Just wondering. I believe I heard on the news, a company that makes suits here in the USA offered to remake the outfits. I am not sure at what cost that would be or the details in that report. I hate the news on TV when you get a 15 second report and that is it. I should maybe read up on the internet and see what more goes with that story.

    In regards to the design, my first impression is that the beret is what makes it look more and most European in my eyes. Who wears a beret in the middle of summer? Or who in the USA wears a beret in the middle of summer? Maybe only someone in a military branch? I think the guys look pretty traditional for the most part, a double-breasted jacket reads differently from a traditional button-up, too. For the men, it is hard to go wrong, especially with Lauren. The women…..I remember in elementary school being asked why I wore anklets with my dresses when I looked so cute otherwise? Yikes, I really liked my anklets back then and it never occured to me that I shouldn’t being wearing them. I don’t remember if I stopped after that incident or not. I don’t think grown women should be wearing anklets and it look like a saddle oxford of some sort with their skirt, not very age appropriate. My boyfriend said it looked very “school girl” and that can go in an entirely different direction for some. I have heard some word about the length of the skirt and such, there can be a whole discussion on that alone. If you are only looking at the drawings Ralph Lauren did, which of course look fabulous, it is because they are fashion drawings on models that are all TALL and THIN and not necessarily representative of some of our olympians. I think the women look a bit stuffy but they are suppose to match the men and I say alot of it goes back to the beret, starting at the top. That is my 2 cents for this day.

    • Brooke July 14, 2012 at 10:40 am

      I think they’ve been made in China for decades – I’m not sure why people are just now noticing. It’s probably because of the economy that there has been such an uproar this time.

  4. thevintagetraveler July 17, 2012 at 11:59 am

    I love that the IATSE offered to step in and remake the uniforms. I’ve felt that the Olympic committee would not take up any of the offers that have been make, but at least there were options.

    Your idea that these type of uniforms ought to be made by professional costumers is simply brilliant. It would never have occurred to me that this is what costumers do – figuring out the character and then making the costume not look like one.

    • Brooke July 17, 2012 at 12:33 pm

      Ralph Lauren’s statement about not having the time to fix the issue isn’t exactly true – it would just require a lot of detailed coordination and more than he probably wants to spend. But it was entirely possible to do.

      Thanks! It’s true – the best costuming is always the stuff you never notice or see. =) (Same goes for make-up, sound, editing, etc.)

  5. theperfectnose July 19, 2012 at 9:49 pm

    Sweet! I was more disappointed that Ralph Lauren gets their stuff Made in China rather than that the Olympic team was using China-made uniforms. I mean for the prices RL charges, that’s just profiteering off some poor blind 3 year old being paid 2 sesame seeds an hour! I stopped buying RTW back in 2008 and haven’t bought anything China made since. Quite happy about that!

    • Brooke July 19, 2012 at 10:20 pm

      Big labels are always a bit over-priced – but they often have interesting details for inspiration! =)

      I wish I had more time to make all my clothes (it’s hard to find exactly what I want in style AND fabric/color already made) but, unfortunately, I always seem to be sewing for others.

      Thanks for stopping by! =)

      • theperfectnose July 19, 2012 at 10:22 pm

        True. Re: TIme-Something I find helps is to use the weekdays (after dinner/ before bed) to trace and cut out patterns and then free time during the weekend for sewing. Bit sweatshop like but it works for me 😄

      • Brooke July 19, 2012 at 10:25 pm

        If I hadn’t just come home from a 12 hour day of sewing, I might be more tempted, hehe. Glad you enjoy sewing too! =)

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