Team Canada’s Olympic Style Evolution

By Julia Girdharry

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As the world eagerly counts down to the highly anticipated Paris Olympics, the excitement among Canadian sports aficionados is palpable. Amidst the fervor, memories of past Olympic glory resurface, igniting a sense of national pride and nostalgia. But beyond the medals and records, there’s another aspect that captivates the imagination: Team Canada’s Olympic Style.


These vibrant garments not only symbolize the spirit of competition but also serve as a powerful testament to the country’s rich sporting heritage. Join us as we delve into the archives and relive the unforgettable moments when Canadian athletes donned their distinctive attire, leaving an indelible mark on the global stage. From bold designs to subtle tributes, these uniforms tell a story of passion, perseverance, and the pursuit of excellence.


So, grab your maple leaf flags and get ready to embark on a journey through time, celebrating the enduring legacy of Canadian athleticism and style.


Roots at the 1989 Nagano Winter Olympics:

In 1998, Roots secured the prestigious contract to design the Team Canada collection for the Nagano Winter Games – a partnership that solidified the brand’s association with Team Canada.


Their initial designs featured a distinctive backward red poorboy cap that became so popular that Roots sold over 500,000 in the months following the gamesAlongside the fleece hat was a meticulously crafted leather varsity jacket produced at the Toronto Roots leather factory. This iconic piece has since evolved and reappeared as a seasonal staple at Roots.


This triumph in 1998 marked the beginning of a fashion revolution for Team Canada, with Roots continuing to create the official team attire for subsequent Olympics in 2000, 2002, and 2004, as well as collaborating on projects for the United States and Great Britain. During this era, Team Canada’s Olympics style became intertwined with Canadian street fashion, featuring a separate line of branded parkas, hats, headbands, sweaters, sweatsuits, and paying homage to Canada’s heritage through the iconic maple leaf design.

Hudson's Bay at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics:

One of Canada’s most memorable team performances occurred during the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games, where numerous Canadians won their first medals on home soil. Notably, Alexander Biladeau’s gold medal-winning mogul performance marked a historic achievement for Canadian athletes.


The success of the athletes coincided with a surge in sales for the Hudson’s Bay Team Canada Collection. Canadian athletes stood out in impeccable red, white, and black ensembles by Hudson’s Bay Company, featuring traditional parkas, matching scarves, and warm toques suitable for the northern winters. This event also introduced the iconic red mittens, a timeless symbol that would endure for years to come.


Combining the crest and stripes, the Hudson’s Bay Company logo is steeped in tradition, reflecting the rich heritage of a company that has stood side by side with Canadians throughout their shared history.

Lululemon at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics:

The Beijing Olympics ushered in a groundbreaking year as Canadian athletes sported athleisure monochrome pieces in vibrant red, meticulously crafted with performance wear by Lululemon. The design process for the uniforms began with 18 months of athlete feedback, including body scans and material testing conducted at Lululemon labs, simulated to match the environment of Beijing. Prioritizing comfort necessitated a technical approach to address each athlete’s unique thermal needs, allowing for customizable gear preferences.


The collection features the maple leaf motif prominently, offering a departure from its traditional representation on our flag to a more abstract and nuanced interpretation, reminiscent of the intricate detail found on our now discontinued penny. Through this magnified reinterpretation, the maple leaf transforms into “metamorphic states,” conveying a fluid and abstract pattern suggestive of transformation.


In reflecting on the journey through past Canadian Olympic uniforms, one undeniable theme emerges: Canada’s knack for embracing innovation and catering to the tastes of younger generations. From Roots’ iconic designs to Hudson’s Bay timeless elegance and Lululemon’s cutting-edge athleisure wear, each era brought its unique flair to the Olympic stage, resonating with fans of all ages.


As we anticipate the Paris Olympics and beyond, it’s clear that Canada’s spirit of creativity and openness to new ideas will continue to shine. Whether it’s a return to classic designs or pushing the boundaries of style, one thing remains certain: Canadian Olympic fashion will always captivate and inspire.


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