By Marina Lopes
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Team USA parade uniform designed by fashion house Ralph Lauren for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, was unveiled on Thursday, prompting waves of disapproval from social-media critics for its patchwork woolen cardigan of stars and stripes.
Lauren called the thick, button-up sweater a "meticulously knit patchwork cardigan highlighted with artisan details and emblazoned with stars and spirited graphics," while pointing out that it was produced entirely in the United States.
The New York-based company drew heavy criticism when it was learned that manufacturing of U.S. gear for the 2012 Olympics in London had been outsourced to China.
Still, the world of social media was less than impressed, deeming the 2014 looks tacky and old-fashioned.
"Team USA will be dressed like your rich aunt at Olympics," posted @Rio2016 on Twitter.
"It was so nice that Ralph Lauren's grandmother volunteered to knit all the Team USA sweaters herself. I like the personal touch," tweeted @My_Lo.
The cardigan, to be worn by U.S. athletes in the opening ceremonies at the Olympics in Russia, will be paired with a cream-colored turtleneck sweater, white fleece athletic pants, black boots with red laces and a belt accented with patriotic graphics.
"The sweater is a 'patchwork' in the true sense of the word to make a collage that represents the American athletes who each have their own unique story to tell," the company said in its release.
The company was not immediately available to comment on the online criticism.
These winter Olympics mark the fourth time Ralph Lauren has designed Team USA's uniforms.
The company has designed 65,000 items for the 650 U.S. athletes, all made and sourced in the United States, according to its website.
The cardigans retail for $595 apiece on the Ralph Lauren shopping website. All proceeds will be donated to the U.S. Olympic Committee, the company said.
(Reporting by Marina Lopes; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Gunna Dickson)