Burton-made Olympic uniforms stir some controversy
BURLINGTON, Vt. -
It looks like something you'd find on your grandmother's sofa, but thanks to the magic of Burton, it's cool again. It's what the U.S. Snowboarding team will wear when they compete in Sochi, Russia, for the 2014 Olympic Games. The coat was inspired by an antique quilt and an old flag. The company says it was going after a sense of Americana with its patchwork design.
"I like it! It looks like something out of Martha Stewart," Abner Fernandez said.
They want the American snowboarders to stand out with a more laid back, yet respectful look to represent the United States. And it seems to be going over well with fans on the slopes at Stowe.
"I like it. And it has the American flag on the sleeve. That's important," Matt Diamond said.
"It's like a quilt, but it's not in your face with vibrant colors," Sean Kates said.
But one thing that is drawing criticism is the fact that the U.S. team uniforms were made overseas-- fabricated in Japan and sewn in Taiwan using fabric that was made in Italy and Vietnam.
"WHAT?! What happened to those American jobs? We need those jobs over here," Fernandez said.
"I don't like that as much. It should be made in Vermont," Kates said.
"It's kind of messed up that our Olympic team will be represented by another country," Ian Lorberfeld said.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, has championed Made in America products, leading the charge to make sure items sold at the Smithsonian in Washington are made here. He had this to say about Burton's uniforms: "Vermonters are proud that Burton designed the uniforms for U.S. Olympic snowboarders right here in Vermont. But the U.S. Olympic Committee must be held responsible for making certain that uniforms worn by American athletes are made in America."
Burton says the design and comfort are key for these uniforms and they went with materials they know work.
"To achieve this level of performance and function, Burton turned to its best, long-standing and most trusted technical partners around the world to produce the uniforms, to ensure that our high technical and design standards were met," Burton said in a statement.
The real test will come in February when the team takes to the half-pipe and maybe a hint of gold will really make the design pop.
"We can wear overalls and get gold," Fernandez said.
Designer Ralph Lauren came under fire for making 2012 U.S. Olympic team uniforms in China. This time, the company says from yarn to dye, its uniforms are made in America.
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