With all the uproar over Chinese made uniforms for the Olympic teams, I thought it only fair that I should point out just how hypocritical we are really being. Come on, answer me truthfully: How many pairs of Levi's do you own in your home? I know we have a few in my home. Did I know they were imported when I bought them? Yes and No. Mainly because my wife actually bought them using my money. She got them on sale for a good price. Sounds like the same criteria the Olympic Committee would have used doesn't it? I imagine it must be okay because here we have the President wearing a pair himself in the picture above.
A little history:
Levi Strauss & Co. closed 58 US manufacturing plants between 1981 and 1990. Even though officially Levi claims they were forced to move operations overseas because of competition in the the early 1990′s. When the 1990s did arrive, the brand was facing competition from other brands and cheaper products from overseas, and began accelerating the pace of its US factory closures and its use of offshore subcontracting agreements. The 1990′s was also a crazy decade for Levi’s. Every few years they were hit with scandal after scandal. Mostly due to the rampent build up of cheap overseas factories. Levi’s claimed not to know all the atrocities committed in these factories but one would think after the first major scandal or two a company would do a system wide check? In 1991, Levi Strauss faced a scandal involving six subsidiary factories on the Northern Mariana Islands where some 3% of Levi’s jeans sold annually with the “Made in the USA” label were shown to have been made by Chinese laborers under what the U.S. Department of Labor called “slavelike” conditions. Today, the label remains an American icon, but you won’t find “Made in America” on any of the tags. Levi’s doesn’t operate any plants in USA. Big and small Levi’s close a plant in them all including: San Francisco, CA., Fayetteville and Harrison, Ark., Albuquerque and Roswell, N.M., and Centerville, Tenn. A sewing plant and finishing center in Knoxville, Tenn., four plants in Texas (one in San Angelo and three in El Paso.) Canada saw plants close in Edmonton, Alberta; Stoney Creek, Ontario; and Brantford, Ontario. The former Levi’s workers in San Antonio say Levi’s had profits of $357 million in 1991 on nearly $5 billion in sales. Closing their plant, they say, was not an economic necessity.
But wait! What kind of shoes is that Mr. President is wearing above? Why that would be a pair of Adidas started by the Nazi Adolf Dassler in 1947. Currently, it is French owned with the manufacturing outsourced to Asia. At least they were never made here and the last I heard, it was never an American company. Was, is, and will be just another import for years past--and to come!
Adidas is currently enjoying the fastest growth of any brand domestically, with a market share of 6% and revenues of $500 million. They have been shielded from bad publicity by the two Goliath’s of the industry, Nike and Reebok, and are reaping the rewards substantially. They have adjusted their manufacturing strategy, from a vertical operation in Germany in the 60’s and 70’s, to an outsourcing focus today throughout Asia. Unlike the big two, they do not have a code of conduct, and their factories are considered to be the worst in the industry. It is just a matter of time before they are exposed, with an underground swelling of negativity already occurring today. In order to avoid the negative effects and lost revenues that Nike and Reebok have received, they need to immediately begin to take a proactive stance in regards to the working conditions of their factories.
Not to be outdone on the imports though, the First Lady prefers $450 Lanvin imported tennis shoes...
At least Mr. President's Chicago White Sox jacket was made in the good ole U.S. of A.! Seriously though, if the President can make such a gaffe as having two-thirds of his apparel he is pictured wearing while throwing the opening pitch at the Major League Baseball's All-Star Game is imported, can we really gripe at the Olympic Committee?
Just in case you are interested in supporting American manufacturers during this time of crisis, here is a link to a site that list American manufacturers of pretty cool stuff. You will find links to the manufacturers websites for shopping too.
It has been pointed out to me that the shoes are actually Asics, a brand created by a Japanese bootlegger. Hence the title of this article has been changed to reflect this. For links proving this, see comment #10 and my reply to jumpshotjarrod.