Classic pieces, done exceptionally well, are hard to beat—especially when it comes to sweats. After consistently releasing some of the best sportswear in the world (including several runs of Winter Olympics uniforms for their home nation Canada, as well as the US and Jamaica) Toronto-based Roots celebrates their 40-year history with the XL Collection—a series of heavyweight basics made entirely in Canada. After a visit to the Roots HQ and a sneak preview of the anniversary collection, we were anxious to get a hands-on feel for the specially made heavyweight fleece.
"We really wanted to leverage the heritage aspect of our brand," says Roots designer Adrian Aitchenson. "We developed a new yarn for this collection that could be used as a fleece at a local mill here in Ontario." The result is a fleece that is textured yet soft and substantial without feeling bulky. Keen attention to detail in construction, design and fit characterize the collection with flatlock seams, ribbed cuffs and copper Talon zippers. "I wouldn't say I'm a fleece nerd," says Aitchenson (whose streetwear resumé includes launching his own label Too Black Guys in the '90s) "But there are brands doing it really well. We already make the most popular sweats in Canada, with this we wanted to make the absolute best." After throwing on the zip hoodie and sweat shorts, Aitchenson and his team may have just hit their goal. The fit on the XL Collection is a near-perfect classic fit; not baggy but not slim.
One of the most striking aspects of the XL Collection is the in-house designed topographic print. "It's sort of a nod to camouflage, but camo isn't really a part of our brand. Instead, we did a map of Algonquin Park, which is where the brand was conceived. It's the perfect art to capture the spirit of the line." The Algonquin print is available in sweat shorts as well as a zip-hooded sweatshirt.
Comprising nine pieces—including crewnecks, pullovers, zip hoodies, sweatpants and shorts and a very clean pocket T-shirt—the Roots XL collection is available online today, 3 March 2014, and in selected Roots retail stores.
Photos by Hans Aschim