It would be quite an understatement to say the Canada Goose has come a long way from its beginning. This brand was founded in Toronto over six decades ago and served a broader and urban customer base. When Canada Goose first began, it was meant to meet a simple need of protecting you from the weather. However, building a fashion brand usually involves many complications and failures along the way, and you can generally find this when examining Canada Goose history. For every success story, several attempts failed.
Canada Goose history showcases a case of finding elite status most unexpectedly. It is the history of a company that never lost sight of what’s truly important to them. As we explore how it started in this article, we’ll find that Canada Goose’s growth aligns with its commitment to its beginning. Canada Goose has come a long way from its customer base of dog sledders, forest rangers, and anyone who braved the cold of the far north. It now serves a more urban customer base; let’s find out how it all began.
Canada Goose History – Where It Originates
Canada Goose has been around since the 1970s. The company was founded in Toronto, Canada, by David Reiss. When the fashion brand first began, it was still a part of the company known as Metro Sportswear Ltd. The company’s goal was to provide people with warmer outerwear and everything else they needed to survive the harsh Canadian winter. From the beginning, it is clear that pragmatism is at the heart of everything this brand does. The price tags and endorsements do not draw focus from the goal of each item’s task. There’s been a vast growth in the people who wear their products. Their customer base now includes world-class athletes, adventurers, risk-takers, and more. As the recognition continues to spread, it can be challenging to remember the humble beginning of this brand.
David Reiss contributed a great idea to an old industry. With its local roots in Toronto, it’s clear where this company was manufactured. However, it all began while working in his father-in-law’s company. In the 1970s, David Reiss started thinking about changing the method of filling jackets. He invented the down-filling machine that operated on volume. By doing this, he successfully altered the standard through which many outwear manufacturers worked in the 70s.
Once he invented this, David Reiss started considering striking out independently. He eventually did, and that’s how Canada Goose was born. However, the company first began under the name Snow Goose. The goal of the new company was clear and reasonably specific. Its home base was in one of the coldest places on the planet. Therefore, their focus was creating garments that would protect people in such frosty temperatures. One of the first few products Snow Goose created targeted scientists stationed in the Atlantic.
Its first set of releases that targeted scientists in the Atlantic was the Expedition Parka. This product was a bulk mass of weather protection. As long as staff plugged away at the McMurdo station, it kept them safe from the frigid weather. The Expedition is quite similar to the version available in stores today; it was always a beast of a parka. When the Expedition Parka was first released, no other outerwear weighed as much as it did. However, its weight wasn’t due to too many whistles and bells. On the other hand, this Parka featured a thick Arctic-Tech outer layer that housed a 625-fill-power duck down.
There were few options for those who wanted to stay very warm in the coldest temperatures of Canada. Of course, this was the goal of the jacket. Although the jacket has evolved over the years, it is still a purpose-driven jacket. However, today, it is available in varying colors and is primarily used in parts of the world where summer fun translates to a temperature above freezing. The Expedition Parka became an industry standard not long after its creation.
In 1982, Canada and Canada Goose made history together. The first Canadian to scale Mount Everest, Laurie Skreslet, did so while wearing the Metro Sportwear Parka. This Parka was soon called Big Red, and it inspired more adventurers into the sub-zero location. This Parka is now known as the Canada Goose’s Skreslet parka. It is a heavy-duty coat that offers users even more protection than the Big Red. It became a staple with adventurers, casual citizens, and climbers alike seeking the warmth that came with the 750-fill-duck down.
Canada Goose History – Changing Wind
As the 90s came along, it also brought Dani Reiss, who took over the company’s reins. This moment was a pivotal move in Canada Goose history as it changed the company in many ways. Although Reiss wasn’t ecstatic about taking the reins of the family business at first, he eventually committed to the company. Under Dani Reiss, the company did not change its base of operation. Therefore, all its protective wears are a product of Canadian manufacturing. Like every other business in the fashion industry, the company tried to resist the urge to outsource. For most companies, this was a way of inviting financial strain. Unfortunately, that was the exact case for this manufacturer of winter gear.
The common thought in the fashion industry was that consumers could care less about where companies manufactured the product. As demand began to increase and level out, local production became too strenuous. This caused a mad dash for overseas outsourcing for most companies, and there was a cost-benefit for choosing this route.
The Resilience of Dani Reiss
The new chief executive of Canada Goose thought differently. With the vacation of domestic production lines so rampant, Dani Reiss saw it as more of an opportunity than a cue to begin outsourcing overseas. He believed that if every competitor left, they would be the only one left, increasing sales while widening the customer base. Another business-to-customer opportunity that Dani Reiss saw took advantage of the brand’s faith in the consumers. He believed that luxury customers who paid four figures for a Moncler jacket could also pay the same for an ‘authentic’ Canadian jacket.
He began to sell Canada Goose jackets at European fashion trade shows with a $1000 price tag. However, Dani wasn’t after any tag. Rather than that, he doubled down on the products’ technical performance and rugged authenticity as a selling point. He maintained a sense of exclusivity that strengthened the ‘Made in Canada’ brand by remaining in Canada. This led to a moment that grew stronger over time. The trustworthiness of this Canadian brand and its authenticity grew as it was one brand that wasn’t trying to be anything else than what it already was.
Canada Goose History – A Growth Strategy
Dani began to gift Canada Goose products to film crews working in freezing temperatures at this exact point. Additionally, the brand sponsored cold-weather film festivals in Park City and Toronto. Although these weren’t like the celebrity endorsement deals that we know today, the jackets soon featured in films and did a great job of keeping the celebrities warm.
Several stars took to wearing the jacket offsets, too, where the press could capture the signature patch on their arm. This action elevated the parkas to a status symbol that several other outdoor gear brands had not achieved. Canada Goose took off and was soon likened to luxury brands like Gucci and Prada. Wearing a piece of Canada Goose became like wearing an Armani straight from the Milan runway or biting into a croissant from Paris.
Canada Goose History – Ruffling Feathers
An aspect of the Canada Goose history that became a sore spot for the company was coyote fur. It became common to see protesters spilling fake blood at their retail stores. Many animal rights groups began to protest against the brand in 2006. These groups decried the killing of animals for fur, tagging them inhuman. They claimed that the traps used in capturing these animals usually caused them undue harm. PETA was one group that went big; it took out ads on billboards, shelters, and everywhere prominent. PETA’s idea was to make the brand synonymous with animal cruelty.
Anti-fur protests were already common during global fashion weeks. However, the intensity level at Canada Goose was unmatched. When the company opened its flagship store on London’s Regent Street, most protesters continued protesting outside the store thrice a week for two years. Additionally, PETA bought $4000 worth of shares when the brand went public to submit a shareholder proposal to end fur use in the company.
As protests intensified, Canada Goose remained resolute. The company defended its use of fur as a superior material for protection from the cold. The brand made it clear it sourced its fur from a company in Western North America that required suppliers to confirm they don’t tolerate mistreatment, malicious harm, and neglect of animals. Consumers seemed to side with the brand as Canada Goose history doubled revenues within two years.
Canada Goose Adaptability
In 2020, the brand released a sustainability report that made it clear it would only use reclaimed fur from 2022. A year later, the band released a new statement making it clear it would stop buying fur by the end of 2021 and stop using fur in all its products by the end of 2022. Although protests were reaching a fever pitch at the beginning of 2020, the brand had one of its best financial performances, so why did it change its stand? The brand made it clear that outside pressure had nothing to do with their decision. Instead, it was due to the brand’s focus on innovation, sustainability, and producing lifestyle products.
Even as business was booming for the brand, it was clear that consumers’ taste was changing. Sustainability and ethics became key influencers of buying decisions. Other brands had also taken notice and stopped using fur. Additionally, celebrities were beginning to use the red carpets that brought fame to Canada Goose in the 2000s to stand against animal cruelty.
Canada Goose history is one of resilience and growth amid struggles. Canada Goose continued to thrive amid challenges from its early years to recent times. One way that Canada Goose has managed to remain a top brand is by evolving. Canada Goose recognizes that one of the best ways to stay true to your brand values is by making needed changes. Therefore, the brand is willing to be open and evolves with the culture. Due to this, Canada Goose can achieve the longevity required to grow in the coming years.