Canada’s coat couture

It may be the closest thing Canada has to a national costume — and it has just undergone an extreme makeover.

It may be the closest thing Canada has to a national costume — and it has just undergone an extreme makeover.

The famous Hudson’s Bay Co. blanket coat, the iconic striped wool coat that’s still available for purchase in its traditional format, has been remodelled into a fashion statement by 10 of Canada’s top designers.

“We were looking for a collaboration so we could do something special around the Olympics to get the brand out there and also promote Canadian fashion design to the world,” says Bay fashion director Suzanne Timmins.

So a collection of “flawed” Hudson’s Bay coats that had never made the sales floor because of their imperfections, were given to 10 local fashion designers to be reconfigured into something that reflected the coat’s traditions, as well as the designer’s esthetic.

Designers including Comrags, Jeremy Laing, Canada’s Todd Lynn (living in London) and Montrealer Erdem Moralioglu, also based in London, participated in the project. Timmins insists there were no creative limitations.

They could keep it real or be completely fanciful, she says. Joyce Gunhouse and Judy Cornish, the names behind the Comrags label, created a sweeping floor-length coat with a detachable bustle.

Erdem created one of his famous capes. And Laing’s coat was chic, urban and asymmetrical.

None of the coats will be offered for sale, though Timmins admits she was so taken with the results of the collaboration that she is considering the possibility of putting some into production.

The problem is that this textile is created and manufactured exclusively for HBC. The company would have to source a different material for the coats, she says. The 10 coats will be on display at the downtown store until Christmas, then move on to the Canada House lounge in their downtown Vancouver store.

Timmins is a fan of the coat and its remarkable history in Canada. “It was our first currency — trading blankets for furs.

 
 
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