VANCOUVER - Hudson’s Bay Company designers went back in time - even drawing from the fashion sense of SCTV hosers Bob and Doug McKenzie - to launch a line of 2010 Olympic wear that tries to create a meaningful connection with Canadians.
Parkas, toques, knitted sweaters and buffalo plaid designs dominated the unveiling of the 2010 Canadian Olympic team retail apparel Thursday at HBC’s new Olympic Superstore in downtown Vancouver.
"It’s dynamic, bold and athletic,” said HBC fashion director Suzanne Timmins. "It’s inspired by sport and infused with Canadian style.”
She said inspiration for the new designs came from several sources, including the 1970s Crazy Canucks alpine ski team and the classic Canadian comedy show SCTV, featuring Bob and Doug McKenzie.
"Canadian style means we’re relaxed and we’re comfortable,” Timmins said. "We don’t take ourselves too seriously and we know how to have fun but we also want to look professional.”
She noted Italian Vogue magazine recently featured a "Canadian look,” with parkas and check plaids.
"That’s our style, so why not take these items and make them part of the core of the collection,” Timmins said.
Canadian men’s Olympic hockey team executive director Steve Yzerman, who modeled one of the new outfits, was pleased with the new look.
"As soon as you pull on these colours, you think about Canada and what it stands for — quiet determination, hard work and sharing the load,” he said. "These are values all Canadians share. You think of heroes like Gordie Howe, Terry Fox and Rick Hansen.”
HBC was criticized last year for the unusually busy design of the 2008 team uniform in Beijing.
"The Beijing design honoured the host country,” Timmins said. "This time, the Games are in Canada and we want the look to be embraced by all Canadians.”
She said everything to be worn by Canadian athletes will be made in Canada while about 25 per cent of the merchandise sold to consumers will be Canadian made, with 75 per cent coming from overseas suppliers.
Timmins said the opening-ceremony outfits to be worn by Canadian athletes will be very similar to what was unveiled Thursday, although some items might feature different colours at the BC Place event on Feb. 12.
Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee chief executive officer John Furlong said HBC has delivered a "platinum performance” with the new Olympic clothing.
"This is simply in a completely different stratosphere than what we’ve ever seen in the past,” he said. "People will want to wear these. They’re gorgeous. They’re beautiful.”
The total value of licensed Olympic merchandise sales worldwide is expected to top the $500-million mark by the time the Games end, resulting in about $54 million in revenues for Vancouver’s organizing committee.