According to Tom Ott, the executive in charge of men’s clothing at Saks Fifth Avenue, Canada Goose sales have been ferocious over the past two years in both the men’s and women’s departments. “It was the most explosive area in men’s during the fourth quarter,” he says. In the past 10 years, annual revenue at the privately held, canada goose sale mensToronto-based company has grown from $5 million to $200 million. Private equity firm Bain Capital bought a majority stake in December 2013 for an undisclosed sum. The coats have been selling out at Saks locations all over the country, Ott says, not only in the snow-battered Northeast but also in California and Texas. Sales have been strong even in Florida.
How did this happen? It’s certainly been a very cold couple of winters in much of North America. But there are lots of companies that make warm coats you can buy for less money, even at Saks. The Canada Goose phenomenon—and with 500,000 jackets produced this year, it’s surely a phenomenon—isn’t about mere functionality. It’s equally about the look of functionality, and the romance of stoic people doing strenuous things in hostile places. And though the Canada Goose epidemic originated, as might be expected, in Canada, the critical mutation that allowed it to jump the species barrier from the Arctic grease monkey to the metropolitan clotheshorse—and to spread unchecked beyond—occurred elsewhere. Film sets were vectors of transmission, and patient zero seems to have been Swedish.
In 1957, Sam Tick, a Polish immigrant and a fabric cutter, started Metro Sportswear, producing snowmobile suits, woolen vests, and assorted cold-weather workwear out of a small Toronto warehouse. Tick’s son-in-law, David Reiss, took over in the 1970s, and under his leadership the company started making down parkas, selling them under the name Snow Goose in Canada and Canada Goose in Europe (the brand Snow Goose was already taken there). The company also manufactured coats for bigger labels such as Eddie Bauer and L.L.Bean. To maximize warmth, Reiss used special down blends, many incorporating the high-quality goose and duck down produced in Western Canada by an Anabaptist sect called the Hutterites. Canada Goose and Snow Goose acquired a loyal following among people interested primarily in warmth, durability, and large, accessible pockets. Petroleum engineers and dog sledders, polar research organizations and Canadian police departments proved willing to pay premium prices for the parkas.
In 1996, Reiss’s son, Dani, graduated from the University of Toronto with a degree in English literature and little interest in working for the family business. He wanted to write short fiction. canada goose jacket sale online To make some money, though, he took a temporary job working for his dad, managing the company’s accounts with small Canadian airlines operating in the far North. Dani got interested in the business and stuck around longer than he’d planned. Canada Goose jacket He liked to travel and decided it might be interesting to see how the coats were sold outside Canada.
When he visited Stockholm in the late 1990s, Sweden was already an important market for Canada Goose. What Reiss quickly realized was that the same jackets he was selling to bush pilots appealed to an entirely different type of Swedish customer. “I walked into a store one day, and there was Canada Goose between Gucci and Prada,” he says. “The Swedish royal family wore our jackets. They still do.” And though the coats came only in men’s sizes, women loved them, too. Stores in Stockholm had a hard time keeping themen’s triple-extra-smalls in stock.
What someone else might have seen as a charming oddity of a practical people, Reiss saw as an opportunity. He abandoned his literary ambitions and dedicated himself to getting the world to see Canada Goose through Swedish eyes. In 2001 he took over from his father as president and chief executive officer. He introduced a women’s line and developed slimmer “urban, modern” models for both men and women. He stopped making coats for other labels and sold only under the Canada Goose brand. Reiss courted higher-end department stores at trade shows. And he decided to keep all of his manufacturing at home in Canada, a decision that would justify the parkas’ high price, ensure quality, and burnish the pitch about tradition and know-how. “People around the world love Canada,” he says. “They love what we stand for, they love our nature, they love the North, they love the images of that.” And if people around the world know one thing about Canada, they know it’s cold.
Reiss also found cheap ways to market the brand. He gave coats to bouncers at Toronto nightclubs and scalpers outside the city’s sports arenas. Canada Goose parkas were already popular with movie crews, and he capitalized on that. The company is a sponsor of the Toronto, Sundance, Berlin, and Busan film festivals. Producer Rose Ganguzza remembers calling up the coatmaker in February 2011 when she was making Kill Your Darlings, canada goose jacket sale a drama about the coming-of-age of the Beats and a sensational 1944 murder. “We were going to be shooting scenes on the Hudson River in 20-below temperatures,” Ganguzza says, with perhaps a touch of exaggeration. Canada Goose outfitted the entire cast and crew for free. “They found loyal customers in every one of those people,” she says. “Dan Radcliffe”—the English actor plays a young Allen Ginsberg in the film—“every year wants a new Canada Goose jacket.”