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The Rise of Canada Goose’s Hollywood-Friendly Coats

Manchester by the Sea” is a film in which none of the characters seem to have on the right coat; they are always shivering in the New England chill. In one scene, Lee Chandler, played by Casey Affleck, dressed in a short cotton jacket, is having a loud argument with his teen-age nephew in an icy parking lot, when a man—played, in a Hitchcockian cameo, by the film’s director, Kenneth Lonergan—strolls by. “Nice parenting,” he snorts. His righteous authority is made all the more irritating by what he is wearing: an impeccable aqua parka, with a round red-white-and-blue patch depicting the Arctic Circle on the sleeve, like a badge for orienteering.

the Arctic Circle on the sleeve, like a badge for orienteering.
the Arctic Circle on the sleeve, like a badge for orienteering.

Lonergan’s jacket, made by the label Canada Goose, is a subtle but effective sight gag: it is easy to feel superior in a thousand dollars’ worth of Hutterite goose down. From an anthropological perspective, Lonergan’s choice of parka is accurate; look around any major city with a chilly climate, and you will see an army of crisp marshmallows, their left shoulders emblazoned with the embroidered “Arctic Program” slogan, shuffling through the slush. The jackets are unusually expensive—around a cheap canada goose jacket thousand dollars—and yet, unlike slipping on, say, an asymmetrical Comme des Garçons garment that also costs the equivalent of a week’s salary, the coat doesn’t aim to awaken one’s senses to new possibilities; rather, it exists as a kind of pillowy insurance against the outside environment. Canada Goose coats do, in fact, provide maximal protection against the wintry mix, but—unlike less expensive models from L. L. Bean, or even mid-level ones from Patagonia—they don’t just make their wearers warm. Instead, they promise eternal warmth—a lifetime guarantee that you will never feel cold again. Even if the wearer is only walking from the subway to the office, she is ready for freezing conditions and treacherous mountain passes. The coats offer the seductive trappings of practical preparedness, the idea that one has a no-nonsense attitude to the wind; like zippable Thoreau’s cabins, each one emits a bat signal of self-reliance. A Canada Goose coat says, “I earned the money, and then I spent the money, and now here I am, warmer than you are.”

 A Canada Goose coat says, “I earned the money, and then I spent the money, and now here I am, warmer than you are.”
A Canada Goose coat says, “I earned the money, and then I spent the money, and now here I am, warmer than you are.”

Canada Goose, which is currently worth around three hundred million dollars and is about to announce an I.P.O., which could raise its value to more than two billion dollars, trickled into the mainstream, like most luxury brands do, with cameo appearances. The model and actor Kate Upton wore Canada Goose (and not much else) on the cover of Sports Illustrated, in 2013. Rihanna has recently been cavorting around the world in a scarlet version that the brand made in partnership with the cheeky French label Vetements. The Hollywood angle was all part of a rebranding blitz that began in 2001, when the Ontario businessman Dani Reiss succeeded his father, David Reiss, as C.E.O. Back then, Canada Goose pulled in only three million dollars per year, mostly by licensing its designs to other outdoorsy retailers. The company, which was founded, in 1957, by a Polish immigrant and factory worker named Sam Tick, was first called Metro Sportswear, and made heavy down parkas for canada goose men’s jacket for sale workers whose jobs required them to brave frigid Canadian temperatures: park rangers, police officers, scientists exploring ice floes, snowmobile operators. The company sold designs to Eddie Bauer and L. L. Bean; in 1985, when David Reiss, Tick’s son-in-law, bought a majority stake, it started to release its own garments, under the name Snow Goose. Because there was already a Snow Goose registered in Europe, Reiss changed the name to Canada Goose, a patriotic move that proved to be crucial to the brand’s success. Canada, as an idea, has a cachet when it comes to outerwear: the country’s name conjures visions of grizzly bears, snowcaps, moose with antlers as big as tree trunks. When Dani Reiss started mass-producing pricey coats, in the aughts, he kept all production in Winnipeg and Ontario, further building the brand’s national mystique. Europeans started buying them en masse. What’s a few thousand dollars when it comes with the promise of Klondike adventure?

Actresses buried themselves in their coyote-fur hoods on film sets.
Actresses buried themselves in their coyote-fur hoods on film sets.

Canada Goose made the transition to American consumers more slowly, likely because we already had a booming market for costly technical gear, led by California giants such as the North Face and Patagonia (a.k.a. “Patagucci”). But, starting around 2010, Reiss did what every luxury retailer needs to do to push his brand into the American consciousness: he sent Canada Goose coats to celebrities. He began sponsoring cold-weather film festivals where the Hollywood crowd, usually loath to don long sleeves, could cosplay for a week as snow bunnies. The coats popped up in Berlin (though that partnership ended this year), and then at Sundance, and then suddenly they were all over the place. Actresses buried themselves in their coyote-fur hoods on film sets.

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