Monday, October 12, 2015

Brand History: Canada Goose

Canada Goose

Founded: 1957
Country of Origin: Canada
Famous for: Ultra heavy-duty cold weather gear, down parkas, supplying gear to the United States Antarctic Program (USAP)
Social and Environmental Responsibility initiatives: insistence on keeping supply and manufacturing processes in Canada (resulting in ethical wages and provision of a reasonable standard of living for hundreds of Canadian artisans), ethical harvesting of coyote fur and duck down in accordance with international standards, support of The Conservation Alliance and Polar Bears International

      Polish emigrant Sam Tick left postwar Europe seeking opportunity large enough to quench his entrepreneurial spirit. Rather than immigrate to the United States, Tick made his home in Canada, choosing the city of Toronto as the location for both his home and his new life. In 1957, Tick founded Metro Sportswear, Ltd., an outdoors apparel firm specializing in the production of raincoats, wool outwear, and snowmobile suits – products tailor-made for the needs of the Canadian consumer. Metro Sportswear grew steadily throughout the 60’s and 70’s, but it wasn’t until 1972 that the company known for its world-famous down jackets would actually make its first parka.

      That year, Tick’s son-in-law David Reiss joined Metro Sportswear. Reiss, a closet inventor, went on to create a volume-based down filling machine, all while leading Metro towards international expansion under the revamped “Snow Goose” label. Snow Goose’s overstuffed down parkas quickly gained a reputation as utility pieces engineered for those who work in the coldest places on earth – early Snow Goose clients included the Canadian Rangers, the Ontario Provincial Police, and the Ministry of the Environment. By the 1980’s, the pure function of Snow Goose’s down parkas had spread its customer base and opened new engineering opportunities for Metro Sportswear’s designers, as everyone from Everest Climbers to scientists at Antarctica’s McMurdo Station request custom Snow Goose insulation pieces to meet their unique needs. During this era, the first truly iconic Snow Goose jackets (the Expedition Parka and “Big Mountain” jacket) are launched, and the legend of Toronto-based Metro Sportswear grows around the globe.

      By the late 1990’s, Snow Goose jackets are sold throughout the United States and Europe as the ultimate in cold-weather gear, yet still retain a distinctly utilitarian audience far from their fashion customer base of today. Since a Snow Goose apparel line existed in Europe prior to Metro’s first trade show on the continent, Reiss relabels the brand as “Canada Goose” to reflect his commitment to the country that gave him and his family so much. Reiss’ son and the grandson of Metro founder Sam Tick, Dani Reiss, joins the company in 1997 and is given the job of calling Canadian bush pilots who delivered to the Arctic to see if they used Snow Goose parkas. Dani sees the job as a way to make a little bit of traveling money before he goes abroad to realize his dream of becoming a writer, but decides to stay with the company after conversations with the Arctic pilots show him just how loved Snow Goose is by the people it serves.

Antarctic Researchers in Canada Goose jackets, pictured on Observation Hill, McMurdo Station.

      By 2001, Dani was in charge of then-Metro Sportswear and catalyzed Canada Goose’s growth with two bold decisions: he pledged to keep all production and supply in Canada, and then renamed the company “Canada Goose” after realizing that everyone from Antarctic researchers to Swedish citygoers had come to associate his down-filled parkas with the company’s Northern heritage. To this day, Canada Goose sources down, coyote fur, and cut & sew production exclusively from Canadian artisans paid fairly for their trade. Over the next decade, Canada Goose would introduce dozens of new jackets and expand to retailers in more than 40 countries worldwide. Over 50 years of integrity and service had paid off: Canada Goose, long the gold standard for anyone working in cold weather the world over, finally had the international recognition it deserved.

      In 2015, Canada Goose offers everything from ultra heavy-duty down jackets rated to temperatures below -25 degrees Fahrenheit, to technical shells and rainjackets that harken back to Metro’s past. Canada Goose parkas are featured in everything from Outside magazine to “National Treasure”, and have transcended their purely utilitarian past to become dually fashionable luxury jackets that rival the appeal of Moncler and even Arc’teryx. The brand’s unique take on fashion and function has even graced the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. As the weather grows cold this winter, you can bet on one fact: there’s only one Goose at home in the snow.   

~Alex R. -Men's Fashion


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