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COC unveils new Olympic clothing line

Hudson Bay Company fashion director Suzanne Timmins (centre) poses with trampoline athlete Karen Cockburn (left) and swimmer Tobias Oriwol along with The Bay's Olympic inspired clothing in Toronto on Wednesday November 2, 2011.

Frank Gunn

The Canadian Olympic team, about 320 athletes and 250 support staff, will march into the London Olympics wearing a combination of traditional Maple Leaf shirts and showing off a new Olympic patch collection which depicts Canadian landscapes, animals and sports.

The Hudson Bay Company, which last week became a national partner of the London mission, unveiled the 29-piece athlete kit Wednesday. The jackets, pants, leisure clothes and accessories are in the strong colours of red and white found on the flag, accented by green, black and grey. The patches – which are a novel element in uniform design -- are loaded with Canadian iconography, from beavers, to deer, owls, maple leaves and coniferous trees.

"Canadian Olympic outfits are traditionally the envy of the world, and are a real source of pride for our athletes," Derek Kent, chief marketing officer at the Canadian Olympic Committee said in a statement. Elements of the Canadian garb have become fashion statements – such as the backwards-worn poor-boy hat for the 1998 Winter Olympics.

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This year's novelty is the patches, borrowed from the idea of Canada patches sewn onto travellers' backpacks.

"They are a symbol of exploration, adventure and accomplishment," HBC said in introducing the gear Wednesday. The patches recognize every part of the country, and their shield shape represents the provinces joined in one coast-to-coast nation.

Also included in the collection are two patches dedicated to the 2012 Canadian Olympic Team – one in English, one in French. The original patches will be incorporated into many of the apparel designs and will also be available for sale separately.

A Maple Leaf Canada graphic features the word Canada arched within the shape of a maple leaf. First seen at the Stockholm 1912 Olympic Games, Canadian athletes have sported similar Maple Leaf Canada T-shirts as part of their uniform.

The entire 2012 Olympic collection can be purchased at The Bay and Zellers from November 2 until September 2012 or online from The Bay.

The collection includes a hooded windbreaker, patched and vintage washed jean jacket, track jacket, knitted toque, graphic hoodies and T-shirts.

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Sports reporter

James Christie written sports for the Globe on staff since 1974, covering almost all beats and interviewed the big names from Joe DiMaggio, to Muhammad Ali, to Jim Brown to Wayne Gretzky. Also covered the 10 worst years in Toronto Maple Leafs hockey history. More

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