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H&M to Dress Swedish Athletes for Olympics

The high-street retailer has signed a four-year contract with the Swedish Olympic Committee.

PARIS Hennes & Mauritz AB is getting more competitive on the sports field.

The Swedish high-street retailer announced today that it would dress Sweden’s athletes for the Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Sochi, Russia, in 2014, and the Summer Olympics and Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2016.

Under the terms of its four-year contract with the Swedish Olympic Committee and Swedish Paralympic Committee, H&M will create outfits for the opening and closing ceremonies and develop a full range of outfits for athletes to wear in the Olympic village for training and leisure.

The pieces will be developed in collaboration with Swedish participants in the Olympic Games, including former alpine skier and multiple Olympic champion Anja Pärson.

“To represent our country wearing clothes from a Swedish company will strengthen the team, our team spirit and image to the outside world, especially when it is an internationally renowned brand like H&M,” Pärson stated.

The athletes will also provide feedback and test garments for an expanded range of sportswear pieces, scheduled to go on sale in H&M stores worldwide in January 2014.

Ann-Sofie Johansson, H&M’s head of design, said the fast-fashion giant was honored to dress Sweden’s Olympic competitors. “The designs will bring together sport and fashion in a totally new way and have Swedish heritage as a proud influence on the collection,” she added.

The collaboration reflects H&M’s growing interest in the sports category. The retailer earlier this year announced it had signed Czech tennis star Tomas Berdych as brand ambassador, marking the first time H&M clothing will be worn on court by a top-ranking tennis player.

H&M last year began ramping up its sportswear offering with a special collection for men and women featuring outfits suitable for yoga, running, working out, leisure wear or cycling. This winter, it reintroduced ski wear.

“We are putting more effort into sportswear,” H&M spokesman Håcan Andersson told WWD. “We’ve already expanded the sportswear section for ladies and men and also for kids, but I think this is taking it to a new level.”