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Acclaimed artist-writer Douglas Coupland has spent years examining the essence of Canadiana through our national icons – from stubby beer bottles and Clamato juice to Terry Fox and Marshall McLuhan. So Roots X Douglas Coupland – his collaboration with the quintessential Canadian brand on a collection of men’s, women’s and children’s clothing, accessories, artwork and furniture – seems like a logical next step.
Still, the Canuck symbols in the collection are not necessarily what you’d expect. The theme is “Canada Goes Electric,” and the T-shirts, hoodies and leggings sport nostalgic illustrations from the early days of electronic broadcasting, like radio waves, motherboards and test patterns. “I think after the Olympics we all felt like we’d OD’d on Mounties and beavers,” Coupland explains. “This is more about the optimism that came out of the culture in the ’50s and ’60s, the wonder of machines and how they conquer distance. It was a nice, forward-looking period in the culture, and I thought, ‘Let’s just put that in a bottle – or on a shirt – and bring it into 2010.’”
The collection also includes pixellated Group of Seven paintings and polo shirts with a crest (made with the help of Helios Design Labs) that incorporates a satellite, colour bars, a canoe and the northern star as well as a polar bear and a beaver.
Coupland was in Toronto last week for the launch of the collection at a pop-up store in the Narwhal Projects gallery at 680 Queen St. W. Another Canadian icon, hip-hop star Drake, was among the crowds admiring the motherboard T-shirts and the jacket decorated with paddles, an airplane and even the recycling symbol. Prices range from $3.99 to $1,973, and the pop-up store is open until July 25.
For more information, visit roots.com/douglascoupland.