Two years ago, faced with criticism of outsourcing of Olympic uniforms and souvenirs, Ralph Lauren promised to bring manufacturing back to the United States. While Mr. Lauren did bring token manufacturing back before the 2014 Winter Olympics, his company manufactures all U.S. Open clothing offshore in third-world sweatshops. Ralph Lauren's polo shirts retail for $125, definitely high enough to leave a substantial profit if they were made in the USA.
In July, 2012, Polo Ralph Lauren released a statement, "Ralph Lauren promises to lead the conversation within our industry and our government addressing the issue of increasing manufacturing in the United States. We have committed to producing the Opening and Closing ceremony Team USA uniforms in the United States that will be worn for the 2014 Olympic Games."
Ralph Lauren has failed to lead the apparel industry to bring manufacturing back to the United States. There are many fine American manufactures who are ready, willing and able to make U.S. Open clothing in the United States including American Apparel and the All American Clothing Company.
You can make a high-quality T-shirt in the United States for $4.00 or less. The U.S. Open sells its official T-shirt for $30 and it is made in India. There is plenty of room for profit for the USTA if it sells American-made T-shirts and clothing.
The U.S. Open should be the showcase for American products. It is the premier tennis event in the United States, and one of the four major tennis tournaments held worldwide.
Ralph Lauren's Website Violates Federal Law
On RalphLauren.com the website fails to disclose that all of the U.S. Open garments for sale are imported. The federal Textile Act provides that promotional material or mail order catalogs, including Internet websites and magazine ads, are falsely or deceptively advertised unless they clearly state if each product is made in the United States or imported.
The USTA Should Get on the Ball
The United States Tennis Association, of which I am a card-carrying member, should require that its licensed products be made in the United States. The USTA owns the U.S. Open. The USTA should start with tennis balls. For many years Wilson's U.S. Open tennis balls were made in the United States. Now they are made in China. If the USTA required American-made tennis balls, Wilson, or a competitor, would restart production the in the United States.
Major sponsors of the U.S. Open include Emirates Airline (owned by the country or more accurately the Emirate of Dubai), Heineken beer (Dutch), Evian water (French) and Mercedes Benz (Germany). I don't think that the U.S. Open would have much difficulty finding American replacements for these imports.
Remarkably, the USTA has the U.S. Open T-shirt made overseas. In violation of federal law, the USTA's website does not disclose where the shirt is made, but says that it is made by "American Needle," which sounds American, but it is not. American Needle has the U.S. Open shirt made in India, and it also fails to comply with federal law on country of origin labeling.
The Federal Trade Commission
I have filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission against Ralph Lauren, the USTA and American Needle for failing to disclose the country of origin of its U.S. Open apparel products on the Internet as required by the Textile Act. The ball is now in the FTC's court.