Kelowna apparel maker stitches its future into iconic Canadian brand | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna apparel maker stitches its future into iconic Canadian brand

CDN brand partnered with CBC's Hockey Night in Canada for some retro clothing. This was shot at Chute Lake Lodge.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Rachelle Beatty Photography
February 09, 2021 - 7:30 AM

If anyone has tapped into the sartorial zeitgeist of the COVID-19 era, it’s Markku Luopa. 

The Kelowna entrepreneur launched a clothing brand in 2019 that focused on high quality, comfy essentials (aka: sweats) with three letters stitched on to whip up some national enthusiasm — CDN.

He had it planted with a few small retailers before COVID-19 hit and had plans for bigger and better things but like everyone else, the pandemic-driven economic shutdown offered some stumbling blocks.

But then the change in the way people were living from day to day actually worked in his favour. 

“I think the whole vibe of last year was pretty conducive to comfortable, cozy clothing and we were on that, regardless,” Luopa said. “Then we just amplified it with our Canadian made sweatsuit that we launched in the wintertime, and I think that we were in the right lane and just kind of put it in another gear.”

While Luopa wasn’t able to go on the cross country tour and start making retail connections across the country as planned, he used the time to connect with this community a little bit more.

“I tried to support local businesses and find new shops and partnerships and giveaways and what not to try and do our part to help out,” he said. “And our products being made in Canada, supporting the Canadian economy on a continual basis, was something people liked.”

At some point, he found support with others who also helped raise his profile. He did projects with Jillian Harris, celebrity businesswoman/influencer, and he said the traction he got in response was something that was hard to articulate. He also worked with DHL on a project.

Then came along the dream deal for a self-professed “hockey guy.”

This week, Luopa launched a Hockey Night in Canada logo’d product line along with the CBC. They’d reached out to him to do the project and he said it was thrilling.

“As a hockey guy to work with them is an opportunity of a lifetime,” he said. “You know, being a kid growing up in Canada, that was what I did on Saturday — I think that's what a lot of people did on Saturday —  tune in and watch two games.”

He said CBC reached out to him last summer and it was “a pretty easy decision to say ‘yes’.”

The partnership resulted in three hats, a hoodie and a T-shirt that featured the retro Hockey Canada logo, along with the CDN branding on it as well. A portion of sales from the Hockey Night in Canada collection goes towards supporting Canadian programming initiatives through CBC.

As of Jan. 29, it’s in select retailers and online, and is selling well.

“In the first day we had we had orders that ranged from the Yukon to California to Dubai and Australia,” Luopa said.

“When I woke up it was a crazy thing to fulfill those orders and to see where they're all coming from, but I think just that just speaks volumes to, you know the history with Hockey Night in Canada, not only in our country but how it how it resonates with people around the world.”

For Luopa it means that his dreams of producing a nationally known clothing line are one step closer to reality.

“It feels it feels like we made a really big step in the right direction… it cemented my belief that we’re resonating with Canadians, not only on a consumer level but on a business level,” he said.

All of the apparel from CDN is made in Canada and all of its social platforms not only talk about its product but feature local businesses from around the country.

“They're recognizing what we're trying to do and … it feels like it really put us on the map is one of Canada's brands," he said.

It also signals something else that Luopa is proud to do.

“Being in a smaller market like Kelowna and to be able to get the attention of people in Vancouver, Calgary or Toronto, Montreal, feels good,” he said. “It takes time to get the word out there. But our message hasn't wavered, you know, we want to be Canada's next brand.”

To see the clothing line, go here.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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