Canada’s Olympic Team at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games this February in Torino, Italy will be sporting uniforms designed and developed by Hudson’s Bay Company (Hbc). The Hbc uniform package combines the best of fashion and function, with a distinct take on both Canadian heritage and modern, high tech, high performance winter sports wear.

The Canadian Olympic Team uniforms were unveiled today by Hbc and the Canadian Olympic Committee at the Fort York Armoury in Toronto at a gala celebration including Canadian Olympic athletes, guests and Hbc associates. The items seen for the first time at the event included team wear – items the athletes will wear during the 2006 Olympic Winter Games – as well as select replica wear items, the clothing line inspired by the athlete’s uniforms that will be available in Hbc stores across Canada. Special Olympic themed boutiques will open this week in Hbc stores; the Bay, Zellers and Home Outfitters.

“The 2006 Olympic Winter Games are about great things – for our athletes, our country and now for Hbc,” said George Heller, President and CEO, Hbc. “The Hbc team of designers have built a collection for the Canadian team representing us in Torino that captures the essence of Canada and will make us all proud when our athletes march into the stadium and climb onto the medal podium.”

“These uniforms represent the pride Canadians feel for our Olympic athletes,” said Chris Rudge, CEO, Canadian Olympic Committee. “They are attractive and functional, and will proudly showcase the Canadian team to the world at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games. We are very impressed with the 2006 Torino clothing line and the commitment Hbc has made to athletes for the next seven years.”

The 2006 Canadian Olympic Team uniforms and replica wear were created by a team of Hbc designers supported by Canadian design consultants that were brought in to work on the program. The team also worked with Canadian Olympic athletes from across the country. Over 50 athletes participated in focus groups in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal and provided valuable feedback and suggestions that contributed to the goal of creating a team uniform package that exceed the athletes’ fashion and functional needs. A set of core values including diversity, pride, achievement and tradition were the inspiration and touchpoint for the design team throughout the creative process.

Canada’s Olympic Team in Torino will receive over 45 items as part of the 2006 Team package including leisure wear, coats, indoor and outdoor jackets and pants, sweaters, shirts, shoes, toques, scarves and gloves. There will also be special athlete-only pieces such as the opening ceremony jacket, podium jacket, and a blazer that will not be available for sale. The distinctively Canadian designs for parade wear — the clothing worn in the Opening and Closing Ceremonies — and the clothing designed for the medal podium will only be unveiled at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games.

“We sought out the best in Canadian fashion and challenged our internal team of talented designers to come up with a line that mixes Canadian heritage with present day trends,” said Suzanne Timmins, Fashion Director, Hbc. “From the latest fabrics to the cut and size ranges, our team considered everything.”

“We knew when we struck our partnership with Hbc earlier this year that their first major challenge would be the design of the 2006 Canadian Team uniforms,” said John Furlong, CEO, VANOC.” We put our faith in their ability to create a uniform that would instill national pride and become one of our athlete’s most treasured memories of the Games. They have succeeded beyond our expectations on both counts. Congratulations, Hbc on a job well done.”

Hbc is the Official Clothing and Luggage Supplier to the Canadian Olympic Teams and the Official Department Store Partner and General Merchandise Retailer in Canada until 2012. Established in 1670, Hudson’s Bay Company is Canada’s largest department store retailer and oldest corporation.

The Company provides Canadians with the widest selection of goods and services available through retail channels that include 550 stores led by the Bay, Zellers and Home Outfitters chains. Hudson’s Bay Company employs nearly 70,000 associates and has operations in every province in Canada.