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Douglas Coupland designs clothing line, claims Canada not doomed
July 13, 2010 1:49 PM   Subscribe

Douglas Coupland designs a clothing line for Roots, the Canadian “outdoorsy” retailer whose heyday, like Coupland’s, may well have passed. (Garish official splash screen.) Two points of MeFi interest: The motherboard pattern (at “Canada & International” store; at USA store; also at pop-up stores like Vancouver’s) and Coupland’s unexplicated claim that “[t]he sexiest thing about Canada is that we have a future.”
posted by joeclark (60 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
The crest on those polo shirts is pretty hype.
posted by chunking express at 1:52 PM on July 13, 2010


I might consider buying that t-shirt if it wasn't $50 and didn't have his name on it.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:56 PM on July 13, 2010


Canadians who know the brand, Roots, associate it with a kind of outdoorsy Crew/Fitch/Bauer feel.

In other words, Canadians who know the brand Roots associate it with American brands.

How very ... Canadian.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:58 PM on July 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


I support this post, but not the editorializing it contains.

Strange and beautiful website, though... I hate flash for a variety of reasons, but at least this is a reasonably arty example of it.

And a lot of people probably don't know that Coupland went to art school and worked as a designer in Italy and Japan before he took up writing.

I didn't know he was gay. How odd not to know that about one of my favorite authors.
posted by hippybear at 1:58 PM on July 13, 2010


In other words, Canadians who know the brand Roots associate it with American brands.

American brands that sell the same kind of stuff and are in the same mall? Yeah. We do. Is there something wrong with that?
posted by Sys Rq at 2:01 PM on July 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


No, no, no. This is the sexiest thing about Canada.
posted by crunchland at 2:01 PM on July 13, 2010


This is outstanding.
Douglas Coupland, zeitgeist guru of my long lost youth, I salute you.

The sexiest thing about Canada is that we have a future, and I say this in an era when there’s not too much future going around. So I wanted people who wear these garments to look good, if not better, but also to make themselves feel good about the future—about looking forward to the next decade.

All hail Canada's conservatively run and well-regulated banking system combined with ever-strengthening global market demand for commodities!!!
posted by Bwithh at 2:05 PM on July 13, 2010 [7 favorites]


I would buy a Douglas Coupland-designed t-shirt only if it bore the words "ANTI-VICTIM DEVICE."
posted by AkzidenzGrotesk at 2:05 PM on July 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


A shame such an interesting idea gets such a poorly framed and cranky FPP.

Kudos to Roots for at least trying something new -- the splash screen was a fun segue into the point of Coupland's design thesis: that technology has a huge amount to do with our identity as a nation, as it helped bridge the gap that naturally occurs when you have so many people over so small a space.

This is also a huge departure for Roots, which is mainly famous for a beaver logo and big, chunky fonts on all their stuff.

Now I just wish I liked the clothes more.
posted by Shepherd at 2:09 PM on July 13, 2010


For me Coupland has always been about surface and an odd nostalgia. He is nostalgic about everything - the past, the future, and the present, even as it is happening. I get that this longing underpins a genuine emotion of affection - but there's no riguer to what he does - just gentle sighing over and over again. He's got a couple of art pieces up in Vancouver including a Digital Orca. Looks great - but really, that's it.

Anyways - some of the stuff for Roots looks good, and that's all you can really ask of clothes.
posted by helmutdog at 2:10 PM on July 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


hmmm.... the 100th Anniversary Douglas Coupland Jacket costs US$1,973
posted by Bwithh at 2:16 PM on July 13, 2010


Aww jeez, I just can't justify spending 40 bucks on a shirt. Or almost 2 grand on a jacket. You know what 2 grand is? A used Hyundai. Or a Roland TB-303.
posted by hellojed at 2:17 PM on July 13, 2010


Looking at the designs more, Coupland seems to be playing with some of the same "this is Canadian" ideas which he expounded upon in his Canada House and Souvenir Of Canada projects. That's fun. Sometimes it's easy for those of us living in the US that Canada has its own culture and icons and everything.
posted by hippybear at 2:20 PM on July 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


I still think it's pretty messed up that they used Roots for the USA Olympic Team uniforms in Salt Lake City.
posted by smackfu at 2:25 PM on July 13, 2010


The crest on those polo shirts is pretty hype.

Ontario Coat of Arms
posted by tighttrousers at 2:25 PM on July 13, 2010


Douglas Coupland's time has passed? The guy still cranks out interesting books and artwork, and is on TV and radio from time to time. A great Canadian.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:31 PM on July 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


in the 50's, the early 60's, we were the only country on earth that had electricity and communication systems, we didn't have any politics, there was no communism, no imperialism, there was nothing else driving it.

what
posted by Lemurrhea at 2:40 PM on July 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh yeah, I remember that guy.
posted by spilon at 2:44 PM on July 13, 2010


we didn't have any politics

DUDE.

April 20, 1963, the Front de libération du Québec sets off its first bombs in Quebec.

Coupland must be one of those Vancouver guys that doesn't consider anything east of Abbotsford to be "Canada."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:50 PM on July 13, 2010 [7 favorites]


Damn, I thought that said "a clothing line for Robots."
posted by moonmilk at 2:52 PM on July 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Coupland must be one of those Vancouver guys that doesn't consider anything east of Abbotsford to be "Canada."

My first thought went to the imperialist aspect.
But yeah, not to mention the flag debate, the Quiet Revolution, the Saskatchewan doctors' strike, Korea...

Oh well, I guess the clothes are pretty. Although I've had a circuit board-based notebook for a few years, my sister brought it back from somewhere or another.

Not to mention my blueprint hoodie.
posted by Lemurrhea at 3:03 PM on July 13, 2010


That test pattern is under copyright and used under license?? It's just a few colors arranged in bars. That would be like the LGBT community enforcing copyright on depictions of a banded rainbow flag.

Besides... I'm sure I saw that combination of color bands on the cassette fed loading screen of my Commodore 64. Prior art.
posted by vectr at 3:09 PM on July 13, 2010


we didn't have any politics

DUDE.

April 20, 1963, the Front de libération du Québec sets off its first bombs in Quebec.

Coupland must be one of those Vancouver guys that doesn't consider anything east of Abbotsford to be "Canada."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:50 PM on July 13 [+] [!]


Oh - don't mention bombs... it makes Douglas think of gasoline - and you know, the smell of gasoline is so evocative. Smells like... the future! *Sigh...
posted by helmutdog at 3:24 PM on July 13, 2010


I was at the G-20 protests in Toronto (my first time there) where I saw a bunch of shoppers and passerbys get kettled by the police and I walked away thinking Canada IS doomed.

We're a police state, we don't do U.N. Peacekeeping missions and are stuck in the Afghan-war-without-end, the oil sands are creating huge toxic waste dumps, and the tax burden keeps shifting from businesses to the taxpayers.

Saskatchewan is a borderline desert that is experiencing massive flooding this year... This country has some pretty serious problems.
posted by Intrepid at 4:00 PM on July 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I am so damn tempted to get that motherboard skirt.
posted by piratebowling at 4:04 PM on July 13, 2010


We're a police state

Oh, for fucks's sake...
posted by ethnomethodologist at 4:04 PM on July 13, 2010 [8 favorites]


I am beginning to regard Coupland the visual artist as a blight on the Toronto landscape. He has his hooks into a few developers who will use his name to fulfil their art component obligation. He has three pieces that I know of in the city. The most recent is Canoe Park Landing, to which he contributed a canoe overlooking an expressway, some giant fish bobbers, and some pictures on poles that reference Terry Fox. This park, only open this year, is already looking tattered, untended and ignored. Outside a nearby condo are two large toy soldiers, apparently a tribute to Fort York, which is in the immediate area. These soldiers look plastic and silly. And at a new outdoor shopping mall in Don Mills, Canada's first planned community, he has contributed a clock tower based on the floor plans of the original Don Mills' houses. Again, clever in concept, disappointing in its reality. The houses held at all angles on branches don't really read as anything but plastic Monopoly type houses, and they don't do anything functionally to tell time. The actual time is provided by a small, difficult to read in the sunshine digital readout on the support.
posted by TimTypeZed at 4:04 PM on July 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Coupland must be one of those Vancouver guys that doesn't consider anything east of Abbotsford to be "Canada."

Well, in fairness, all of the Roots "inspired by camping in Ontario" bullshit has very little resonance for Canadians who live west of Thunder Bay.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:18 PM on July 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


We're a police state

This is satire right? It was your first ever visit to Toronto -- have you ever been outside the country? Have you ever visited to an ACTUAL police state? Have you ever talked to someone who lived in a police state and fled to Canada?

Because the notion that because some idiot cops in riot gear got a little inappropriately rough with some protestors over the course of a single weekend in one neighborhood of Canada's largest city somehow is in any way meaningfully equivalent to Canada being a "police state" is so laughable I barely know where to begin.
posted by modernnomad at 4:39 PM on July 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Really KokuRyu? Everyone I meet here in Vancouver is originally from Ontario!
posted by Kirk Grim at 4:41 PM on July 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


His 'heyday' in the sense of getting a ton of media attention may have passed, but the last two Coupland novels (The Gum Thief, Generation A) were pretty great, I thought.
posted by statolith at 4:49 PM on July 13, 2010


with regard to the $2,000 "100th Anniversary Douglas Coupland jacket" , what exactly is the 100th Anniversary in question?. Coupland is obviously not 100 years old; Roots was founded in 1973; the key years for Canadian independence appear to be 1867, 1931 and 1982 (yes, 1982) according to Wikipedia.

so what's the mysterious 100th anniversary mentioned here?
posted by Bwithh at 4:58 PM on July 13, 2010


Coupland has almost always mildly annoyed me since (and even at the time, to be honest), but Generation X, when it came out, for me, was a key that unlocked a door that I barely even knew was there.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:08 PM on July 13, 2010


This is a total shot in the dark but I was curious about that as well... I spent the last 10 minutes looking up stuff that seems to have happened in 1910 in Canada and one possibility is that in 1910 the first municipalities were connected to the power grid. Coupland's theme for this line is "Canada Goes Electric", so that might be it.
posted by modernnomad at 5:09 PM on July 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


tim:
the canoe park is so jolly and wonderful to see from that fucked up expressway, and it reminds us that a lake is a few miles off, i love that piece, plus i am glad that we finally have public sculpture made from work that actually represents the materials we use. as for the clothes, not his best work, but smarter then most designer led capsule collections
posted by PinkMoose at 5:18 PM on July 13, 2010


hippybear: I didn't know he was gay. How odd not to know that about one of my favorite authors.

It was an open secret for a long time, at least until the NYT mentioned his architect partner in their home & gardens piece about his second house.
He's supportive of the local gay community, though; I remember seeing a tile collage of his as part of a silent auction during a drag show fundraiser for a fledgling drag collective (held on a Wednesday at a hipster bar. Welcome to East Vancouver.) a couple years back. I haven't seen the Digital Orca yet, and I'm kicking myself for not sneaking in to (or streaming) the speech he gave when UBC gave him an honourary doctorate in May, but I'll give the pop-up store a look before it closes up.
posted by heeeraldo at 5:39 PM on July 13, 2010


whose heyday, like Coupland’s, may well have passed.

I could quote myself from a recent comment:

"For a little while there Coupland was possibly the most hated writer in Canada, and I think it was mostly resentment snark over his early success. I think critics tended to dismiss some of his interesting transitional books like Life After God and Girlfriend in a Coma (paraphrase: "Just because the telephone doesn't have a cord, I'm supposed to be impressed?"). These books really endeavoured to capture an unsettled millennial zeitgeist, and I recommend them. Shame the foray into television didn't fly, I thought the jPod sit-com was hilarious, but apparently CBC viewers did not agree with me."
posted by ovvl at 5:40 PM on July 13, 2010


When I glimpsed "Doug" and "clothing line" and "motherboard," I was firmly convinced that the post would end in the word Rushkoff.

That this is something from The Other Eighties Doug, Doug Coupland, quite surprises me.

I remember liking Gen X much more than I thought I would.
posted by darth_tedious at 5:47 PM on July 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Shampoo Planet" still sucks.
posted by inturnaround at 5:59 PM on July 13, 2010


"Shampoo Planet" still sucks.

Mods, can we change inturnaround's screen name to "Wrongy McWrongerton"? Thanks.
posted by hippybear at 6:10 PM on July 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


Some of the art is kinda neat, but I just don't feel like it goes well on clothing. I'll admit that I'm a little jaded by the look of graphics on clothes, though. I was hoping for something a little more high-tech looking than just some screenprinting.
posted by orme at 6:14 PM on July 13, 2010


This is satire right? It was your first ever visit to Toronto -- have you ever been outside the country? Have you ever visited to an ACTUAL police state? Have you ever talked to someone who lived in a police state and fled to Canada?

Not a bit. Been to a few totalitarian states, including spending a lot of time in South Africa when it first became a democracy, passed through Cuba, was in Vietnam for a long time - I know what a totalitarian state looks like. Do you? Why do you think that putting a bunch of good guys in jail, and letting the cops beat on a bunch of others isn't a problem?
posted by Intrepid at 6:18 PM on July 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Bwithh: “hmmm.... the 100th Anniversary Douglas Coupland Jacket costs US$1,973

Hot damn, that exchange rate is getting ridiculous.
posted by koeselitz at 6:18 PM on July 13, 2010


Oh, for fucks's sake...

Seriously are you people blind? We've had parliament suspended twice in the last few years because the PM doesn't want to leave office. We're talking violations of basic democratic freedoms.
posted by Intrepid at 6:22 PM on July 13, 2010


Why do you think that putting a bunch of good guys in jail, and letting the cops beat on a bunch of others isn't a problem?

Of course it's a problem, I don't see anyone here arguing otherwise -- but hyperbolic declarations that it is somehow equivalent to a police state are absurd.

We've had parliament suspended twice in the last few years because the PM doesn't want to leave office. We're talking violations of basic democratic freedoms.

Harper is a colossal douche and I disagree with nearly everything he stands for, but this is an awfully amateurish understanding of our political system and of Commonwealth constitutional doctrine in general.

Anyway, we're clearly off topic now so I'll leave it at that.

As for the clothes -- it's definitely nice to see Roots branching out into something different, but I still don't see anything there that really grabs me, fashion-wise.
posted by modernnomad at 6:36 PM on July 13, 2010


100 anniversary jacket: 1973 - 2073. The anniversary hasn't happened yet.
posted by joelf at 6:38 PM on July 13, 2010


Include me in those who are annoyed by Coupland but still like him anyway. I can't really think of another author who has this effect on me--kind of like friends I've had, who drive me up a tree sometimes but are just...so...nice that I can't bring myself to be an asshole and stop hanging out with them.

And really, his nuclear-war nightmares in Life After God were amazingly like the ones I had in junior high (thanks, The Day After) and in a weird way, I found that comforting.

Plus he infected me with an intermittent longing to move to Vancouver. Maybe someday.
posted by emjaybee at 7:22 PM on July 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I might consider buying that t-shirt if it wasn't $50 and didn't have his name on it.

A friend of mine was given a Roots sweatshirt for a Christmas gift. He returned it and the woman asked if there was anything wrong with it. He said, "It says Roots on it." She looked at him like he was crazy.

I mean seriously, I don't care how good (or bad) the quality of their clothes are. Why do they have to put their name and a Canadian flag on everything? I don't understand it any better than people who tattoo their own name on their arm. WTF are you wearing?!
posted by dobbs at 7:24 PM on July 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have an almost total Venn overlap with people who bought the DVD version of the Helvetica documentary. I don’t think I have one reader whose living room has crown molding.

Heh. I like him, even if he isn't cool any more.
posted by mecran01 at 7:48 PM on July 13, 2010


What dobbs said, a million times over. OTOH i'll still go check out the collection.
posted by furtive at 8:33 PM on July 13, 2010


I don't even know what crown molding is.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:15 PM on July 13, 2010


Logos on clothing? What will those crazy kids think up next?
posted by smackfu at 9:15 PM on July 13, 2010


Which means I must be SUPERcool. Or too lazy to Google it. But probably not both.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:16 PM on July 13, 2010


I have an almost total Venn overlap with people who bought the DVD version of the Helvetica documentary. I don’t think I have one reader whose living room has crown molding

Bah! It's this anti-suburban psuedo intellectual superiority that drives me crazy about Coupland (cause what the fuck does that statement even mean - except sound cute?) The fact that he grew up and continues to live in West Vancouver - THE Canadian proto white flight incredibly disprotionately wealthy suburb is kinda funny. Anyways.... to keep things on topic - nice shirts! I hope he designs underwear next.
posted by helmutdog at 9:46 PM on July 13, 2010


Trying too hard: a Canadian tradition.
posted by mobunited at 10:17 PM on July 13, 2010


Douglas Coupland's time has passed? The guy still cranks out interesting books...

Same book again and again.

Pretty good book though.
posted by rokusan at 1:14 AM on July 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


That is about the least functional ecommerce website I've ever seen. Yuk!

(Nice jacket though, eventually)
posted by DanCall at 2:25 AM on July 14, 2010


Meh. Let me know when the Margaret Atwood collection is released.
posted by candyland at 6:34 AM on July 14, 2010


Why do you think that putting a bunch of good guys in jail, and letting the cops beat on a bunch of others isn't a problem?

Nobody thinks this isn't a problem. But it happened once. To call Canada a police state because of one weekend of madness is a bit ridiculous though.
posted by antifuse at 12:04 PM on July 14, 2010


I am not a target market.
posted by cog_nate at 6:57 AM on July 27, 2010


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