Li Guilian is the woman in charge of making those non-American American Olympic uniforms, and she just can't understand why we're all so mad that Ralph Lauren's makers are Chinese—especially since China gives us such wonderful cheap products. "Pay attention to the performances of the U.S. athletes and not their clothes," Li, who heads the $300 million Dayang Trends clothing manufacturing company, was quoted as saying in by the Los Angeles Times' David Pierson. "Don't you think we deserve credit? ... We've made so many customers happy over the years," she added.
Pierson's piece explains that Li and Dayang have been making clothes for people like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates and companies like Banana Republic, and points to a bigger-picture narrative of the economics of China's cheap manufacturing and the United States's designers and business owners who are more than willing to take advantage of inexpensive labor. And while it's eye-opening and certainly puts a twist on the kerfluffle of the American team wearing "Made in China" uniforms at the opening ceremony in London tomorrow, Li's argument sort of sidesteps the major reason that leaders like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid were so angry about Ralph Lauren's decision to outsource the uniforms: That something that reflects the U.S. on the world stage tomorrow should be made in the United States. That might be lost on Li, who believes that cheaper Chinese products actually let Americans live happier lives: "I have a simple question... Can America really make the suits we make? We have cheaper costs here so you can have cheaper prices in America," Li said. And if the shoe was on the other foot--if the U.S. manufactured Chinese designs? "So long as they're designed in China I think people here would accept it," Li said in Pierson's report. "Then it would still represent the Chinese spirit. When people see the uniforms at the Olympics, they're only going to see the country's logo."