The red, white and black: inside the HBC 2014 Olympic kit

Canadians love summer. But it is our complicated relationship with winter that really defines us.

And winter isn’t easy.

There are challenges that accompany the cold months. But these difficulties are part of her strange charm. Winter asks more of us than summer and there’s pride in being able to withstand it. Of course, there are the exhilarating moments that only a northerner can understand.

In the end, winter teaches you the most about yourself. Historically, there are few better companions to winter than the Hudson’s Bay Company.

The company has been continually operating since 1670. Long before we were officially a country, HBC fur traders were posted in unforgiving parts of the country, near modern Winnipeg, Edmonton and Calgary.

CONTEST: Win #HBCOlympics team gear on Twitter

According to HBC and grade school textbooks everywhere, these forts were places where native peoples came to trade furs for manufactured goods like knives, kettles and blankets. Today the company still helps some of the bravest and hardiest Canadians: our Olympic athletes.

As the official outfitter of the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Teams, Hudson’s Bay releases their latest collection today.

What’s new for Sochi 2014

Alexandre BilodeauThe newest version of Canadian Olympic Team clothing introduces some very distinct styling.

Let’s talk about black. It’s a part of the collection and used to create a trio with red and white, all members of the colour-blocking team. What does colour-blocking mean? Colours are stacked on the garment, like blocks, appearing primarily in one place.

We love our crests

Like a badge of honour many of the garments include a simple but cool Canadian Olympic Team crest. It’s a bold design that makes a statement. And of course, the maple leaf is everywhere. Hilary Kelley is VP of Design at HBC, “The Collection embodies modernity and classic refinement.  Canadians are passionate about their country; they are avid competitors, they are caring and dedicated.  For the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Uniform, we wanted to ensure our amazing athletes could feel proud, confident and carry with them the tremendous support of an entire nation as they prepare to bring home the gold.”

Hudson Bay Graphics

The athletes will also have a chance to carry some classic Canadian animals with them. The beaver, loon and polar bear also make an appearance.

What to look out for

The collection will include all of what you’d expect in an Olympic kit. T-shirts, sweaters, hoodies and sweatshirts, jackets and accessories.

“I have been fortunate to participate in four Olympic Games, and I know the pride one feels when wearing the red and white while competing internationally,” commented Jean-Luc Brassard, Lillehammer 1994 gold medallist and Assistant Chef de Mission for Sochi 2014. “Hudson’s Bay has delivered once again, and our new uniforms beautifully represent our country’s drive to be number one in Sochi.

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Three words: reversible down jacket. Pretty cool considering sometimes you’re in a black mood, sometimes you’re in a red mood.

All red everything. The Duffle Coat is inspired by Hudson’s Bay’s Point Blanket so, there is a black strip around the waist just to keep things interesting.

It’s sweater weather in Canada an awful lot of the time. The Chunky Knit Canada Beaver Sweater will keep you warm. It’s 100 per cent wool and even comes with a beaver curled up on the back.

See also: A timeless vision

At the end of the day it’s hard to imagine anyone else producing the clothing for the Canadian Olympic Team. Bonnie Brooks, HBC’s recognizable President shares the passion and says it well, “We at Hudson’s Bay are fiercely proud to be Canadian and are passionate about bringing the Olympic spirit to Canadians through our clothing and we can’t wait to cheer on our athletes, knowing that we CAN own the podium.”

In Canada, we don’t just own our clothing because it looks good. We own it because we need to. Our jackets, mittens, scarves and sweaters are required to survive and flourish. Thankfully, our Olympic athletes will be doing so with style, along with every other Canadian who chooses to embrace winter with HBC.

Behind the scenes