In just a few days, American athletes will compete in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. It appears that, despite all the fuss made about their uniforms,Team USA will be properly dressed, wearing coordinating outfits made in China.
What? Team USA wearing uniforms made in China? For shame!
This created such a hubbub that Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey authored a bill requiring future Olympic parade uniforms to be made in the USA. The bill was introduced in Congress last week. (I guess the U.S. senators had nothing more urgent to do.)
I think everyone over-reacted, but then what do I know? I don’t care where my clothes are made. I rarely buy new ones, preferring instead to buy used clothing from the thrift shop.
However, news commentators, before they were distracted by Tom and Katie’s divorce and Honey Boo Boo’s new reality show, railed on about the “China syndrome” for days. One female commentator was particularly outraged. She adamantly declared the uniforms should have been made by Levi’s.
Levi’s? Seriously? Girl, that train left the station years ago.
In 1999, Levi Strauss closed one-half of their U.S. factories. By 2005, almost all (if not all…I’m not absolutely positive about that, so don’t quote me) were closed here. The Levi’s factory in my hometown was one of the first to go.
I seriously doubted that anything made by Levi’s would be made in the USA. Even Olympic uniforms. I was sure I was right.
But then again, maybe the commentator knew something I didn’t. I decided to do a little research and see who was right.
I obviously have too much free time.
After expending way too much effort to research this question that only I was asking, I got my answer.
We were both right. And we were both wrong.
The research started in my own closet when I pulled my Levi’s off the hanger and looked at the tag. Just what I suspected: made in Cambodia.
Then I went to Wal-Mart and inspected all the Levi’s there. Ladies Levi’s Signature jeans: hecho in Mexico and China and Lesotho and Pakistan. Clearance price: $13.00. The jeans for men: hecho in Mexico and Bangladesh. Every day price: $19.92.
Next, I went to Dillard’s department store and looked at ladies Levi’s. The store carried more styles than Wal-Mart and included Bermuda shorts and capris.
But none of the Levi’s brand garments, no matter the style, were made in the USA.
The prices varied from $39.99 to $54.00. The jeans were more expensive here than at Wal-Mart, but still not made in the USA.
Maybe there were some Levi’s in the Dillard’s men’s department that were made in the USA, but I’ll never know. I needed a cookie and some lemonade, so I ended my research and went home.
Once home, I looked at the Levi’s website, but couldn’t find the information I wanted. I’m not saying it wasn’t there…I just couldn’t find it.
So I called the customer service department and asked if any Levi’s styles were still made in the USA. The nice young woman who answered my call didn’t know for sure, but she asked someone else.
Sure enough, she said, some Levi’s are still manufactured here…in California to be specific…using denim from a North Carolina textile mill.
However, the jeans are not manufactured in an actual Levi’s factory where only Levi’s are made. They are produced in a factory owned by AGS USA LLC, whose clients include Wrangler, JCrew, Nordstrom, Helmut Lang and other clothing lines.
So, technically, the TV commentator and I were both correct.
Should the Olympic Committee follow the commentator’s advice and award the project to Levi Strauss, the USA Olympic uniforms could be made in the USA and carry the Levi’s made in the USA label.
But they would not be made in a factory actually owned by Levi Strauss.
Feeling a bit smug since I had proven my point (to no one but myself, mind you) I explored the website again and found the made in the USA jeans.
The price? Significantly more expensive than the jeans made in China and elsewhere.
They start at $178.00. At some point, those jeans will probably go on clearance and be much more affordable. Everything goes on sale eventually. Maybe I should check back later.
Not that I need a pair of jeans…I already have a pair…made in Cambodia.
I wonder…will average jeans shoppers buy a pair of $13.00 Levi’s even though they’re made in China?
Or will shoppers be patriotic and pay $178.00 for Levi’s made in the USA?
Will Senator Menendez and the rest of the U.S. Congress be angry if my fellow Americans and I choose the cheap jeans?
I’m just going to wait until someone donates a pair of the made in the USA jeans to the thrift store.
Then I’ll buy them for $2.00…the every day price for pants where I shop. (The clearance price is $.25 or stuff-a- bag for $3.00)
That way I can appear to be patriotic and still make my car payment.