It’s summertime in Canada. For many Canadians summer means going to the cottage, camping, and road trips. Summer is casual and relaxing. The outdoors beckon us to come and play as the warm weather and longer days bring the promise of adventure and fun. Reading books by the lake, picnics and any kind of outdoor fun you can imagine… except maybe for the next 2 weeks…that is if you’re a fan of the Olympics. You might find the TV is on a bit more as you tune in to cheer on our country.
I am a big fan of the Olympics and of course you know I tuned in last Friday to watch the opening ceremonies live from London. I love to watch the countries enter the stadium – the athletes so proud walking in their parade uniforms, showing their colours. Some countries such as Cameroon, Djibouti and Oman wore vibrant and elaborately patterned, traditional clothing of their country. Many countries wore semi-formal wear in their national colours. Others were more casual. Much to my dismay Canada falls into the latter group.
I have to say I was disappointed in the outfits chosen for the opening ceremonies. Windbreakers? …and who chose those khaki pants? I don’t recall khaki being an official national colour. It’s not even in the Official National Tartan, which was used for the men’s ties and on the placards of the women’s’ blouses. It looked like they picked the jackets and at the last minute remembered they needed pants, then threw in the khakis – as if the pants were an afterthought. I found the overall look to be not only unpolished but unfinished.
Now I am a girl who loves to dress, and dress well, so of course I was dismayed when I saw the Canadians’ parade outfits. Note though that this does not mean I think they should have worn traditional suits or classic blazers and dress pants. That look is overdone and outdated.
I am ok with casual. Croatia’s outfits were casual but they managed to stick the landing where Canada stumbled. What I would have liked to have seen would be something more fun, however, nothing too off-the-wall. The Czech Republic attempt at fun style, mixing blazers with shorts and blue wellies, was a misstep for sure. Perhaps a sharp tailored jacket of some sort with pants (for the men) and either skirts or capris (for the women) made in the National Tartan would have garnered higher marks. A hat would have been nice too, but not just any hat. In my opinion, Kyrgystan would earn the gold medal for worst hat this year, were there such an Olympic category. We have often worn hats in the opening ceremonies and they’ve been a hit. Who can forget the high scores for the Roots-designed, wool felt hats worn in the 1998 Nagano Olympics? Those reverse caps not only got high ranking for style they spawned a trend in hats for the coming years.
Many have questioned the choice of The Hudson’s Bay Company to design the line again for 2012, saying the line was boring and too safe. Personally I think they are wrong. Who better to design it than HBC? It is not only Canada’s oldest department store (founded in 1670), but also North America’s longest continually running company. In addition, HBC put a lot of thought into the design. The jackets in the opening ceremony, along with hoodies and t-shirts in the line, bear a Canada wordmark in red and white across the chest that was inspired by the popular colour blocked designs from the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games.
Let’s not forget the men’s plaid ties and the plaid trim on the women’s blouses worn in the opening ceremonies. This plaid detail for both genders was done in the National Tartan. Who knew we even had a tartan?
Yes the National Tartan, aka The Maple Leaf Tartan, design in 1964 to commemorate the new Canadian flag, has four colours which represent the colours of the maple leaf as it changes through the seasons—green in the spring, gold in the early autumn, red at the first frost, and brown after falling… Note it says brown NOT khaki!…but I digress… It is clear that HBC took the colours from the National Tartan and used them in the wide offering of apparel in the line. Even if you’re not a fan of red and white you will find plenty of colour options to suit you.
According to Suzanne Timmins, senior vice president and fashion director of the Hudson’s Bay Company, “…The official Olympic 2012 collection is inspired by the Canadian spirit and adventurer in each of us.” Well if depicting spirit means relaxed athletic wear with a touch of summertime camp style, they nailed it. The line is very Canadiana by design. From green bucket hats to summer toques, crested t-shirts to long sleeved waffle weave tops and even a patch detailed denim jacket, HBC has captured a relaxed Canadian style. Although I have to admit I find the offering of red mittens, quilted-lined Kenora dinner jackets and wool cardigans embellished with Canadian icons a bit odd in July when we have been breaking temperature records with heat waves week after week. Perhaps it is this sort of thing that keeps that Canadian image of “The Great White North” alive and well!
While the opening ceremonies outfits left me well cold – yes even in July – I have to say that I applaud HBC in the design of the 2012 Olympic clothing line. The line is very wearable and of course that is good for both sales and patriotism. I know that I will gladly wear my patch detailed jean jacket and show my support for our Canadian Olympic team. I can wear it on cool summer nights and pair it up with the long sleeved waffle top on cooler days. Should I find myself still wearing it when the first frost hits I’m sure I can find some appropriate mittens to keep my hands warm…
Photos by Lyndsay Jenkinson
All clothing and accessories (except the tartan skirt and green cap) are available at The Hudson’s Bay Company.