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Winnipeg factory puts style into Canadian Olympic wins

While Canadian athletes are competing and pushing to “Own the Podium,” a Winnipeg factory is making sure they look good while doing it.

Freed & Freed, a Winnipeg-based and family-owned company, won the bid to produce the red duffle jackets Canada’s Olympic athletes wore during the Opening Ceremony.

“It was the most amazing experience for everybody here to be a part of,” said Marissa Freed, the company’s president.

The athletes’ outerwear was cut, sewn, steamed and pressed in Winnipeg; a closely guarded secret until they were officially unveiled.

Freed & Freed also made all of the outerwear available for purchase by fans, but those garments were not produced in the Winnipeg factory.

The company has been around since 1921 and originally started as a pant manufacturer.

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Now it’s run by a fourth generation Freed, Marissa, who spearheaded the Olympic garment bid and said there is nowhere better to produce warm winter jackets than Winnipeg.

“Canada is getting so much attention for outwear these days,” said Freed. “I mean, who else can make better outerwear than the freezing cold people in Canada?”

Although the company has been in the Freed family for nearly a century, it’s the employees on the factory floor and in its office that make it a family business, Freed said.

Many employees have been with Freed & Freed for decades, including operations director Mona Chaves, who is in her 32nd year at the company.

Being a part of the Sochi Olympics, even in just a small way, has been thrilling, Chaves said.

“Unbelievable. It brings tears to my eyes just to be part of it.”

One of the Olympic team’s red duffle jackets hangs at Freed & Freed in Winnipeg. Feb. 21 2014 Winnipeg
One of the Olympic team’s red duffle jackets hangs at Freed & Freed in Winnipeg. Feb. 21 2014 Winnipeg Brittany Greenslade / Global News