NEW YORK — Following the success of its Team USA beret from the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Roots Canada is hoping to hit the jackpot again with its 2004 Olympic merchandise unveiled Thursday in New York.

The looks include T-shirts, sweats, jackets and a few special items, including a blue terry-cloth wristband, and a pageboy style parade hat. The apparel incorporates the Athens 2004 olive wreath logo and is designed to combine elements of the ancient and modern Olympic Games, said Michael Budman, co-founder of Roots. Some items have updated fashion twists, such as women’s sweatpants with the letters USA written across the backside and a selection of fitted, body-conscious T-shirts.

“We looked to create apparel that is wearable and intergenerational,” Budman said Thursday. “We also have some new symbols, such as a vintage-looking furled flag.”

Apart from a parade hat and a few select items, the merchandise Roots displayed on Thursday is primarily what will be available for sale to consumers and not what the athletes will be wearing. The Toronto-based company, an official outfitter of the U.S. Olympic Team, did not unveil the entire U.S. team uniform in order to keep an element of surprise for the Games, the spokesman said.

The apparel became available for sale Thursday at the NBC Experience store in Rockefeller Center here (NBC is broadcasting the Games in the U.S.) and it will be rolled out nationally starting in June. Prices range from about $20 for T-shirts up to $89 for a zip-up sweatshirt, and some profits from the sales of official merchandise will go directly to the USOC.

As an official outfitter, Roots provides the apparel for the opening and closing ceremonies, which is required to be worn by all athletes, and also gives each athlete “travelwear” items that can be worn if the athletes desire. Adidas is the official supplier for the U.S. Olympic Team for the medal ceremonies. The team apparel is designed in a collaboration among Roots, the United States Olympic Committee and the athletes.

The 31-year-old company, which operates about 200 stores worldwide, declined to specify how much business Roots did from the last Olympics, but Budman said it is “substantial” and confirmed it is in the millions of dollars. Its affiliation with the Olympics has also given Roots more international visibility, he noted. The privately held firm has annual sales of about $250 million.Roots began officially outfitting the U.S. team for the 2002 Winter Games and the deal was recently extended through the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing. Athens will be the first time Roots has supplied the U.S. team for a summer Olympics.

— Melanie Kletter

To access this article, click here to subscribe or to log in.

load comments
blog comments powered by Disqus