Why Canada Goose jackets are so expensive

  • Canada Goose started out as a working-class brand in 1957, but has since transformed into a status-symbol. Its jackets today can cost up to $US1,550.
  • The brand says that its jackets can withstand temperatures as low as -30° C and the animal fur trim protects against air-flow.
  • President and CEO Dani Reiss used the silver screen to take the company from performance brand to luxury brand.

Following is a transcription of the video:

Narrator: This jacket has been banned from a UK high school. Why? An effort to poverty-proof the school environment. Shielding low-income students from feeling bad about not having a pricey coat. Canada Goose jackets cost anywhere from $US500 to $US1,500, and they’re not just popular in English high schools. They’re everywhere. How did these coats get so popular? And why are they so expensive?

Pamela Danziger: Canada Goose started out as a working-class brand, and it was really focused on the working-class laborers up in Canada.

Narrator: Canada Goose was founded in 1957 by Sam Tick in a warehouse in Toronto, and it was originally called Metro Sportswear. By the ’80s, people were sporting the company’s jackets in the coldest places on Earth. Its expedition parka became standard-issue at Antarctica’s McMurdo Station, where the scientists nicknamed it “Big Red.” And in 1982, one of the company’s jackets made it to the top of Mt. Everest on the back of Laurie Skreslet, the first Canadian to summit the mountain.

Susan Fournier: So we’re always trying to find the authentic in a saturated world that’s kinda contaminated by materialism. You get those credentials through the craftsmanship. You also get it through a history of the brand, where it’s born of experiences that were actually real that then became products.

Narrator: So what do Canada Goose jackets have that others don’t? The company uses high-quality Canadian Hutterite down, recognised as one of the highest quality in the world. The company claims its animal fur trim disrupts air flow and protects exposed skin against frostbite. In fact, Canada Goose says its jackets can withstand temperatures as low as -30° Celsius. And that sort of quality doesn’t come cheap. Western coyote fur, similar to what Canada Goose uses, is estimated to cost $US104.

Danziger: People need that kind of performance, that kind of functional quality in their day-to-day lives, and it’s unusual to see such a brand transform into a luxury brand, but Canada Goose has been very successful at making that transition.

Narrator: By the turn of the millennia, the company got a new CEO who would revolutionise the name “Canada Goose” into the luxury brand we know today. In 2001, Sam Tick’s grandson, Dani Reiss, was named as the company’s president and CEO. He started expanding the brand in Stockholm. His commitment to quality limited supply, but that only increased demand. The brand spread throughout Europe, mainly on word of mouth. Then Reiss targeted America. His parkas became the unofficial uniform for cold-weather film crews, and in 2004, the coats made it in front of the camera. Reiss continued to market through the silver screen, sponsoring film festivals in cold places like the Berlin Film Festival and Sundance. And its US exposure hit a new high in 2013 when Kate Upton donned a Canada Goose parka on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Fournier: Cultural marketing is that the products are part of the culture, and the advertising is actually the products just living lives with the people who use it.

Danziger: Through that association, they really raised their stature, and again that’s an interesting, authentic way that Canada Goose made its entrance into the luxury market.

Narrator: There has been some backlash though. PETA has protested against the company’s production methods and pushed the company to use a cruelty-free alternative. Despite the protests, the company is on the upswing. At the end of 2013, Reiss sold a majority stake in the company to Bain Capital, which allowed the company to expand manufacturing in Toronto and Winnipeg and eventually open a store in New York City. Its expansion continued for four years, and in 2017, the company went public. On its first day of trading, the company’s stock jumped 25%, and it’s continued to rise through most of 2018. The company’s revenue has increased from CAN$291 million in 2015 to CAN$591 million in 2018, a 77% increase.

Fournier: The world seems to have shifted from materialistic displays of wealth and status to more experiential displays.

Danziger: New luxury is really aligned with the new consumers, which I call HENRYs. The High Earners Not Rich Yet. New luxury appeals to them. I mean, it’s more substance over style, democratic luxury rather than elitist luxury reserved just for the wealthy.

Narrator: Canada Goose has found a niche between accessible outerwear like Patagonia and exclusive outerwear like Montcler and Prada. In 2018, the company accounted for 6% of the $US11 billion premium outerwear market.

Danziger: Traditional luxury, which is very much hinged on exclusivity and elitism, just reserved for the wealthy, is being disrupted by new luxury ideals that young consumers are bringing into the marketplace.

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