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Russian Spin on Olympic Apparel Fray

As Ralph Lauren licked its public relations wounds, American Apparel ceo Dov Charney managed to ride the jingoistic hubbub into some positive press.

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JUST SAY NYET: Russian dressing in the USA? Not exactly.

As Ralph Lauren licked its public relations wounds this past week after it was revealed that its official U.S. Olympics uniforms were made in China, Dov Charney managed to ride the jingoistic hubbub into some positive press via a story in the New York Post that reported Russia was considering making its 2014 Olympic uniforms in Charney’s American Apparel factory in sunny California. The rich irony was easy to grasp and the story spread as quickly as cheap offshore outsourcing in the Nineties. Diane Sawyer’s “World News Tonight” program on ABC — which first sparked the Ralph Lauren brouhaha on its July 11 newscast — obliquely invoked the Post story during a follow-up segment on July 16. “In a twist, we learned today that Team Russia also wants to wear Made in America in 2014. The Russians say they prefer American-made clothes,” Sawyer told her millions of viewers.

But do they really? ABC did not source that apocryphal sentiment to any actual Russians. WWD reached the Russian Olympic and Paralympic Organizing Committee to check on the group’s sourcing proclivities as they plan for the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. “The Sochi 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Organizing Committee is not in negotiations with American Apparel for the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. The official outfitter of the Russian team up to 2016 is the company Bosco Sport,” relayed the organization.

Moscow-based Bosco Sport manufactured uniforms for the upcoming London games in Asia and Europe, according to a spokesman. “Bosco is the official and exclusive outfitter to the Russian Olympic Committee. Our contract with the ROC means Bosco will be dressing Russia’s Olympians and Paralympians through to Rio 2016, in the same bold and beautiful designs we have been creating for the team since Salt Lake 2002. There is no reason for that to change in the foreseeable future,” the company told WWD.

It was unclear at press time whether Bosco had engaged in any discussions with American Apparel about potentially sourcing future uniforms from its Los Angeles facility. Charney declined to comment on whether American Apparel has had any talks with Bosco.

“I had contact from an organization that is connected to the government. Nothing has been signed but we were in dialogue,” insisted Charney. “I invited them to come to our London store and buy samples at our expense and see what interests them.”

Asked about the denials from the Russian Olympic Committee that there have been any negotiations with American Apparel, Charney responded: “I don’t know that every senior person there knows everything that’s going on with an inquiry about product.”

Besides ABC’s misleading inference, both Forbes.com and Cocoperez.com incorrectly reported on their sites that American Apparel had a done deal for Russian Olympic uniforms — something neither Charney nor the Post had actually stated.