UVic goes local with Sitka collaboration

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UVic now selling branded logo on Sitka material

The UVic bookstore has begun selling clothing made with materials and logos provided by Sitka, a local clothing company founded by two university alumni.

People visiting the bookstore can buy sweatshirts and t-shirts adorned with the trademark Sitka tree and made with the local materials that are so important to Sitka and its co-founder Rene Gauthier.

“We approached [UVic] saying, ‘hey, do you want to use some of our products as your own?’ We just thought that there might be an opportunity there,” explains Gauthier. “I think universities are a little more forward-thinking when it comes to clothing, and I would say that the University of Victoria is a little more forward-thinking when it comes to wanting to be responsible in the purchases that they make.”

A photo of the new Sitka-UVic clothing. Photo by Cormac O’Brien, editor-in-chief

A Sitka crewneck sweatshirt costs $100 and a t-shirt costs $40.

According to Jim Forbes, Director of Campus Services at UVic, Sitka is one of a few local brands that UVic is collaborating with on campus — local companies renowned for sustainability and environmental stewardship.

These priorities are part of why Sitka’s connection to the campus is so strong.

“Certainly when I went [to UVic], the student population seemed pretty progressive in that regard,” Gauthier says, “and I know that the people that work for us today — that’s something they believe in strongly as well.”

Sitka was founded on campus, back when co-founders Rene Gauthier and Andrew Paine were students at the Gustavson Business School. An entrepreneurship class together helped inspire the duo to sell surfboards and t-shirts. The first Sitka store opened in 2004. Since then, Gauthier has often been involved with UVic in one way or another.

“Both Andrew and I will talk to business [students at UVic]. The faculty asks us to give talks here and there, so we’ll often do that,” says Gauthier. “We’ve employed many university students in the past and still do, you know. We still have students on our payroll. We’ve been able to maintain that connection.”

A photo of the new Sitka-UVic clothing. Photo by Cormac O’Brien, editor-in-chief

The new merchandise represents a trial run for Gauthier, who is hopeful that a successful start will lead to continued collaboration between Sitka and UVic. UVic providing local clothing for their students to buy can’t be a bad thing, he says.

“It benefits the community, for sure.”

Visit the UVic bookstore online at uvicbookstore.ca/merch to check out the new Sitka-UVic designs

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