Red mittens and Mukmuk: The unlikely success behind the 2010 Winter Olympics’ bestsellers

The most popular souvenir at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games were Hudson’s Bay red mittens. More than three million pairs were sold, making it the must-have item of the Vancouver 2010 Games.

Now considered an iconic part of the Games, Hudson’s Bay initially needed to be convinced to make the mittens part of their line of Olympic apparel.

“HBC didn’t actually like the idea,” former VANOC torch relay director Jim Richards said.

“They didn’t see the ability to sell red mittens. There’d been no market proof that mittens would sell.”

The idea for the red mittens, which featured a white maple leaf sewn onto the palm and the Olympic rings on the back, came from an entry in the contest to make a logo for the 2010 Games.

“Among the concepts, there was this theme of winter sport, winter play, and we saw red mittens and we were like, ‘This doesn’t feel quite right for the logo, but let’s tuck that in the back of our brains,’” Ali Gardiner, VANOC’s former brand director, said.

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