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Parks Canada launches clothing line

TORONTO - Parks Canada is giving its logo a breath of new life with the launch of a clothing line that features the trademarked beaver.

The federal agency hopes the new venture will eventually bring more than $600,000 a year to its cash-strapped coffers.

Spokesman Andrew Campbell said the collection, dubbed Parks Canada Original, aims to connect Canadians with nature.

"We hope that it ends up being a great success and that Canadians love being able to wear the Parks Canada beaver with pride," he said.

The collection, which includes T-shirts, hoodies, and pullovers, was conceptualized before the federal government revealed its deficit reduction action plan, Campbell said.

Parks Canada, which operates more than 200 national parks, historic sites and marine conservation areas, was hit hard by budget cuts in 2012, losing about 13 per cent of it's workforce in 2012-13.

The new collection will be sold on the Hudson's Bay website, at a store in Banff, Alta., as well as at airport locations in Toronto and Vancouver.

Parks Canada has a separate clothing line that is sold on its own website.

Campbell said the agency isn't competing with companies such as Roots, which is marketed as a quintessential Canadian brand and also uses a logo of a beaver.

Parks Canada's collection is under a five-year contract with marketing company Cotton Candy Inc. which won the bid for the brand in 2012.

The company's president, John Houlding, described the collection as "high-end, casual clothing" that features "Canadiana designs."

He said eight per cent of wholesale revenues will go directly to Parks Canada and the goal is to earn close to $1 million in revenue for the first year. He added that he expects revenue to grow to $10-20 million in the fifth year of the contract.

"(We are) developing a line that is going to help people in Canada connect with the parks," Houlding said, adding that the brand is billed as a way to promote park visitation and conservation awareness.

Creative director Roger Edwards said he viewed the contract with Parks Canada as a "golden opportunity" to promote Canada on an international scale.

He said the inspiration for the collection — which carries the slogan "This land is your brand" — came from animals such as the moose and beaver, as well as "iconic imagery" such as the Jack pine tree blowing in the wind.

"For me it's the designer's Olympics, you get to represent your country in a different way," he said, adding that he plans to create various artistic renderings of the beaver, using embroidery among other techniques.

"It's staggering."

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