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Lululemon unveils first summer kit for Canada's Olympic and Paralympic teams

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TORONTO -

The look of the Canadian team kit for Paris was a big hit with boccia athlete Alison Levine. The functionality of the outfits was what really blew her away.

Lululemon showed off its collection for the Summer Olympics and Paralympics on Tuesday at the Liberty Grand entertainment complex. Athletes sported a variety of selections during a fashion show that featured garments to be worn on the podium, during opening and closing ceremonies, media interviews and daily life on the ground in France.

"I'd say classy but iconic Canadian with just that touch of elegance and beauty," Levine said of the collection.

It's the first Summer Games for the Vancouver-based Lululemon since becoming outfitter for the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic committees ahead of the 2022 Beijing Winter Games.

Unlike some of the more outlandish kits over the years, there were no cowboy hats, berets or Canadian tuxedo looks on display.

Simple and sporty was the focus with some colourful designs providing a more playful edge. Red and white provided the base but some different colours were worked in using what Lululemon called modern silhouettes and Canadian-inspired prints.

"It's very Canada, I think they nailed it," said diver Nathan Zsombor-Murray. "They got all the right colours: red, white, a hint of black and a little bit of purple. I think they did a really good job with the design."

The kit also included features like magnetic-close zippers, pull-on loops, and sensory touch guides to support a diverse range of body types and abilities.

Levine, who's preparing for her third Paralympics, said she first participated in focus group discussions on the kit over two years ago.

"I'm literally wearing pants with features that I told Lululemon is important to wheelchair users and here I am (a few) months later actually wearing them," she said. "I feel heard, I feel understood and most importantly, I feel comfortable."

Athlete Danielle Ellis wears the kit for media appearances during the unveiling of the Team Canada Lululemon Athlete Kit for the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Toronto on Tuesday, April 16, 2024.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

About 200 people took in the proceedings, which kicked off with a flashy presentation complete with multiscreen videoboards. Canadian swimmer Benoit Huot - winner of 20 Paralympic medals - and retired women's soccer goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé served as co-hosts.

Lululemon's deal lasts through the 2028 Games in Los Angeles. Hudson's Bay Company's 16-year run as Canadian outfitter ended after the Tokyo Summer Games in 2021.

Some pieces from the new collection were available for purchase on the Lululemon website on Tuesday, one day ahead of in-store releases. The showcase vented bomber jacket was priced at $398, a convertible jacket was $248 and convertible pants were $198.

Among some of the other items: a translucent hooded jacket was $188, a button-down shirt was $98 and high-rise shorts were $68.

"What stands out is just how much attention to detail Lululemon has put into it," said COC chief executive officer David Shoemaker. "It's not just the fit, it's not just the function, it's the fabrics and it's the tapestries.

"That all comes together in a marvellous way."

Lululemon said it conducted product testing and feedback sessions with 19 Canadian athletes across 14 different sports while designing the kit.

"What I'm most proud of is not just that it's a beautiful collection, but more importantly it's the innovation and the authenticity of working with them through the relationships and creating innovative solutions with their input," said Lululemon CEO Calvin McDonald.

The Olympics are set for July 26-Aug 11. The Paralympics will be held from Aug. 28-Sept. 8.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 16, 2024.

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