TRIO : Cowichan Bay Sweaters

In the media recently there has been a frenzy over the fact that after holding a design competition, The Hudson Bay Company was chosen to be the supplier of official sweaters to Canadian athletes for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics.

So why the controversy? Look up to the far left. That's the sweater by the American-owned HBC. They defend their having won the competition by saying that they were the only ones able to produce the quantity of sweaters needed in time. They also claim their design is very Canadian, with the elk and maple leaf. They have not disclosed where they will be made (which to me means "not in Canada") but instead insist that they will be made with the highest design and quality standards. Hence the astronomically high price tag, $350, which is almost $100 more than the real thing.

Now look centre. That is a real Cowichan Bay sweater, made by the 12 knitters of the Cowichan Tribe. When I say real, I mean it. They HBC is essentially creating an over-priced knock-off of a sweater that has a trademarked, and copyrighted design. The Cowichan have expressed interest in pursuing this legally with HBC. HBC continues to claim that their sweater aren't copies.

I'll leave you with a few questions. Why did the Olympic committee decide to have a design competition at all? We all know HBC is the exclusive provider of Olympic Gear, have been since they beat out Roots (another Canadian company) for the contracts in 2005. Would all this have been avoided if HBC had just been commissioned to make a "knitted wool sweater"? Why didn't the committee come to a compromise. Having the Cowichan make some and HBC's workers making the rest may have added an appeal to the product, and would at least have a modicum of fairness. I'm glad that all this has brought well-deserved advertisement to the Cowichan Bay Trading Company.

The image to the right is just for your Tuesday morning giggles. The world is an insane place. Here's the source. I couldn't help but laugh when I saw that photo. I guess what I've learned from all this is that nothing is sacred..


♥ Callah said...

I can't believe they are charging $350 for something they aren't even making in Canada (probably)! SO ridic.

donna said...

I'd never even heard of this competition, so I'm really glad you posted this info. On one hand I'm not surprised this happened. Let's face it, the Bay is in shambles and really struggling in the retail market. If anything, this controversy affords more PR/media coverage, ie. advertising, and probably makes them happy.