TORONTO – Roots Canada launched its largest marketing effort to date here today, marking the brand’s 43rd anniversary with a new campaign that marries music, celebrity and “rustic luxury” cool.

Debuting exactly 43 years to the day when Roots’ cofounders Michael Budman and Don Green opened their first store in Toronto, the #sweatstyle initiative represents “a strong nod to our past, as well as an inspirational nod to the future,” said Jim Gabel, Roots’ new president and chief executive officer.

It also represents an extensive collaboration between five major record labels, eight up-and-coming Canadian musicians and the clothing and leather goods retailer. Kicking off from Toronto’s Eaton Centre, #sweatstyle opened with live in-store performances from Edmonton singer and YouTube star Ruth B and Hannah Georgas.

Other performances will follow over the next three weeks in Roots stores across Canada and the U.S., according to Gabel. That playbill includes Vancouver’s indie-electronic duo Humans; British Colombia pop star Tyler Shaw; Toronto hip-hop artist Jazz Cartier; Juno-nominated singer-songwriter Scott Helm; Brampton, Ontario trio EMP; Bowmanville country artist Meghan Patrick, and Montreal singer Charlotte Cardin. Each performance will be broadcast live on Facebook live. “Sweatstyle” musicians will also be featured on Vice’s digital verticals.

A photo series showcasing the stars’ interpretation of Roots’ “sweatstyle” will also appear via social media, newspapers, magazines, outdoor posters, digital channels, audio systems in 109 stores in Canada and five in the U.S., and through streaming partner Spotify. These images will also figure prominently in 130 Roots stores in Asia this fall.

“This campaign is a big deal for us and represents a seven-figure investment,” Gabel said. “We gave each artist a blank canvas. But this is all part of making certain that we, as a company, have a defendable position as we expand globally.

“Moving forward our plan is to focus on fewer products and make sure the message about them is front and center in all our stores so that we can cut through today’s cluttered marketplace,” he added.

That focus will revolve around Roots’ footwear, apparel and accessories.

“We are a heritage brand, so our core values will always be front and center,” said Gabel. “But the real job to pull all this together in Canada and the U.S. so that our brand position is well understood by consumers.”

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