Stella McCartney on the made-in-China Olympic debate

Stella McCartney, designer of the Team GB Olympic kit, speaks up on her views about manufacturing in China.

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A storm has been brewing over several countries’ Olympic kits being manufactured in China.

On Thursday Senator Harry Reid, the Democratic majority leader, told reporters ‘I think they should take all the uniforms, put them in a big pile and burn them and start all over again’ after discovering the US Team’s Ralph Lauren opening and closing ceremony kits had been produced in China.

It seems despite decades of globalisation and free-trade agreements, patriotic pride has suddenly become dented on the eve of the Olympics. In response, on Friday Ralph Lauren pledged to make the uniforms for the 2014 games in the U.S, and today Chinese news agency Xinhua called the American outcry over the made-in-China blazers ‘hypocritical’ and ‘irresponsible’, sarcastically suggesting that US lawmakers should perhaps be banned from ‘wearing anything or using any product’ that was made abroad. ‘If there is anything that should be burned, it should really be the hypocrisy of the US politics’, it said.

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Stella McCartney, designer of the Team GB Olympic kit which was manufactured in China, as well as Hungary, Turkey and other parts of Europe, today voiced the reality of global production.

Speaking exclusively to ELLE McCartney said, ‘China has the monopoly on lower-priced ranged products full stop, so you can have that conversation with any high street brand. I think when it really becomes important and valid is when you’re looking at how things are made; environmentally, in quality of life and fair trade and things like that. That’s when it becomes an important topic of conversation.’

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With that in mind, McCartney works with an environmental body to educate manufacturers. ‘I work a lot with NRDC (Natural Resources Defence Council) trying to inform Chinese manufacturers about how they can reduce their use of energy and water and how to be more responsible. Giving them information and challenges makes them realise that by using less water, they spend less money’.

Talking to ELLE at the launch of her first standalone Stella McCartney for Adidas store on London’s Brompton Cross, Stella said that the manufacturing industry, no matter the product, was an ever-changing one. ‘Things are changing all the time, in every industry: in the car industry, the fashion industry, in the food industry... it’s the life we live in now, it’s a global economy, people can’t afford things and therefore need the lower price points. It’s an important question to ask but [manufacturing in the UK] is not for lack of wanting...’

The new Stella McCartney for adidas store is now open at 97 Fulham Road, London SW3

Click here to see Stella McCartney's new season collection

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