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Canada's Olympic Apparel For Beijing 2008 Unveiled


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Note that these are not the Olympic uniforms, they will be unveiled later

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Models and athletes walk down the runway on April 30, 2008 wearing a selection of the Bay's Olympic apparel line that Canadian athletes will be provided with for the Beijing games.

Canada's Olympic gear unveiled

The Bay's new line of Olympic apparel is a fashion-forward fusion of Chinese and Canadian influences

Apr 30, 2008 04:30 AM

David Graham

Living Reporter

"We really brought fashion to the Olympics," says a chuffed Suzanne Timmins, fashion director of The Bay.

Timmins, and her design team of Tu Ly and Vivienne Lu, unveil their Beijing Summer Games Olympic apparel collection tonight at Muzik entertainment complex. And this time Team Hbc is convinced they've raised the "style" bar a notch higher.

Canada consistently elevates the cool factor in its Olympic uniforms. And other countries are taking up the torch, she says. "It's just not good enough any more to sew your country's flag on an Adidas windbreaker," says Timmins. The Russians really got their game on in Torino, she says, referring specifically to, "those over-the-top fur hats."

And even when international designers like Giorgio Armani for Italy, Yohji Yamamoto for the U.K. and Ralph Lauren for the U.S. are recruited, they've never quite hit their mark, explains Timmins.

For consumers, the Bay design team has played with bold patterns and graphics in an ebullient mix of Canadian and Chinese icons and colours. Much of it is produced in super-light, silky fabrics, and eco-friendly materials, all trends consistent with looks seen on runways, she insists.

"We all see Kanye West in this outfit," jokes Timmins, pointing to an exuberantly printed cotton fleece hoodie and matching nylon track pants in red, white and gold.

The progress of the entire collection was scrutinized at various intervals by Hbc and Canadian Olympic Committee executives. As well, focus groups were conducted with athletes across the country to make sure their apparel met their needs.

Most of the collection, which has taken a year to complete, was made in China. In a news release Hbc executives insist all factories producing merchandise "were audited and, where needed, improvements were made in the factories in order to comply with Hbc's longstanding Code of Vendor Conduct."

The collection is divided into two categories – the outfits designed exclusively for the athletes for the opening ceremonies and podium presentations, and a commercial "replica" collection based somewhat on the athletes' wear. It goes on sale tomorrow at Bay and Zellers stores and online at hbc.com.

The replica collection, less restricted by regulations, will also be sold at Canada House and the B.C. Pavilion in Beijing's Olympic Village. Prices range from $20 for a white Ming cadet cap to $40 for a polo and $140 for a rolling upright suitcase.

But opening ceremony outfits and podium pieces, produced only in the Canadian flag's red and white, are reserved for the athletes, who insisted they didn't want to see those pieces on consumers walking down Yonge St. Hbc makes a point of not showing opening ceremony and podium outfits before the Games begin.

Timmins admits it was challenging to work within the confines of a two-colour palette. "The Americans get red, white and blue. Give us that extra colour," she says, in a mock plea for creative freedom. Each athlete receives 25 pieces from the collection.

Colour figures prominently in the commercial collection.

They started with an examination of both countries' dramatic landscapes and ultimately narrowed the palette to colours that reflect the five Chinese elements of astrology – fire, wood, water, earth and metal. Canadian and Chinese symbols are mixed in a chinoiserie motif in "Great Lakes" blue and "jade" green, for example. "And not just any blue – a beautiful tealy-greeny blue," qualifies Timmins. A tattoo design features a prominent red maple leaf surrounded by brilliant green and blue swirls and waves of colour.

As well, the number "8" is a recurring theme throughout the collection – in a fine repeated lattice print or stacked graphically as a tape down the outside seam of track pants. (The Olympics officially start on the eighth day of the eighth month at the eighth hour.) "Eight is a very lucky number for the Chinese," says Timmins.

But this is not a purely fashionable pursuit, she explains. In 2005, Hbc signed a $100 million deal for the rights to produce the official Olympic gear until 2012, including the daunting task of creating the complete line for the 2010 Winter Olympics hosted by Vancouver.

They learned lessons from the past. For example, "the athletes melted in Athens," Timmins recalls, so everything designed for the Beijing Games is super lightweight. "It could be 45 degrees in Beijing in August."

Designer Ly says various fabrics have "built-in cooling factors, moisture-wicking technology and are UV resistant." As well, for environmentalists, some fabrics are created from bamboo and organic cotton.

They've also learned not to illustrate the collections on "stick figure" models, recognizing that gymnasts and speed skaters have beautiful shapes "with muscles."

But in the end, according to Timmins, the real indication that you've succeeded is when you see the athletes walking around the Olympic Village wearing your clothes, "not because they have to, but because they want to."

And what will be the big Olympic Village trading item?

It could be one of the colourful tattoo T-shirts, but as a sheer novelty factor, the $15 multifunctional B-Tube in a print mixing Canadian and Chinese motifs could be the hot ticket.

The simple tube of polyester material promises to block more than 95 per cent of UV radiation and can be worn as a face mask to filter smog, as a hairband, and as several different styles of head covering.

"Perhaps some of the female gymnasts can wear it as a bandeau top," says Timmins.

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WTF! _ Sorry Canadians, but they look like pyjamas (and even if they were pyjamas they'd be hideous!)

WTF,they are orange again~oh dear, this season's trend going or-gy for sure.

And, those designers Tu Ly and Vivienne Lu (Sounds like Chinese) should be boycotted from producing such street-yob like ''Uniform''....It looks so cheap and random// I meant at least I am a half fashionista. The cut makes the whole thing looks shapeless and lazy....oUch~What a fashion they ''proudly'' present to us.

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WTF! _ Sorry Canadians, but they look like pyjamas (and even if they were pyjamas they'd be hideous!)

I'm going to have to say that the design of the apparel and uniforms have been going downhill eversince VANOC turned over the rights from ROOTS (which did everything before Athens) to the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC). They were responsible for the funky uniforms in Torino 2006....I can't wait for Vancouver 2010. -_-

Ironically enough, HBC hired the ROOTS designers. I'm not sure what happened, perhaps HBC gave the designers a low budget for the actual design? Not to mention that the fabric is of cheap and poor quality.

With that said, the athletes like the Beijing 2008 apparel. It was designed in mind for Beijing's hot temperature, something athletes were complaining about with their ROOTS uniforms/apparel in Athens.

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I would say I threw up a little bit in my mouth, but I think the HBC designers already did that all over the clothing.

OK, so these may not be the official uniforms, but they are what HBC expects Canadians will buy in their stores? WHAAAAAA!?!?!?!

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I am still speechless...

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I am still speechless...

For why?

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This is what you get for going for money over quality. Roots offered somewhere between 10 and 20 million dollars for Torino, HBC offered over a 100million for 2006, 08, 10 and 21. The bidding process wasn't that fair either, Roots was told to draw up plans for just Torino, HBC was told to do a 4 games package.

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The design and the colors are ugly, but the worst is the quality of the garment.

I remembered seeing the Torino stuff and the material was so thin.

When we compare with the quality we got with Roots, it's a shame.

Ok it's not the same price, maybe 90$ or 100$ for a Roots polo shirt against maybe only 20$ or 25$ for the one of HBC.

I kept the few I got for the Atlanta Games. At that time it was Champion who had the deal for the canadian team.

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The design and the colors are ugly, but the worst is the quality of the garment.

I remembered seeing the Torino stuff and the material was so thin.

When we compare with the quality we got with Roots, it's a shame.

Ok it's not the same price, maybe 90$ or 100$ for a Roots polo shirt against maybe only 20$ or 25$ for the one of HBC.

I kept the few I got for the Atlanta Games. At that time it was Champion who had the deal for the canadian team.

90 or a 100? 50 to 60 is more like it. I bought a lot of the Athens stuff got 4 t-shirts for 120ish.

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Perhaps the "pyjama" style outfit is a little extreme but the other outfits in the line aren't so bad and are certainly in line with the styles from previous years.

If you go to an HBC retailer and look at the stuff on display you'll see there are many choices. I just bought a T-shirt for my son - very cute!

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James would be tasteless this time around when an Olympic apparel is been misjudged on colors and quality through photos.

I think we will always have people who would want things done their own way.

Those Sports wears are just to ok.PLZ!

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Note that these are not the Olympic uniforms, they will be unveiled later

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It looks to me that HBC got a real sweetheart deal on many bolts of a 'reject' batik/First Nations fabric nobody else wanted and could NOT be unloaded anywhere else.

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The big scandal in the news today in Montreal is about the fact that 80% of the line is made in China.

A lot of people protest against the fact that the garments are not made in Canada.

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The big scandal in the news today in Montreal is about the fact that 80% of the line is made in China.

A lot of people protest against the fact that the garments are not made in Canada.

That was one of the reasons the COC choose Roots because they said the stuff would be made in Canada.

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Some of the Canada HBC 2008 Olympic gear is aiight, but not a lot of it. I miss the Roots collection.

I liked the collection from 1998, 2002-2004 with the red letterman jackets (with the COC logo on the back), the Gatsby and baseball caps, T-shirts, and the hoodies. The sling sports suitcase from 2004 was really nice too. I wish I had the money back then and now to buy them.

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