A flock of geese

Canada Goose jackets used to be exclusively for Arctic climates. Today, you can spot the Goose all across campus. How did this trend transform from a necessity to a luxury?

Canada Goose jackets seem to attract many divided opinions—people either love them or hate them. Is the hefty price tag actually worth it?
Canada Goose jackets seem to attract many divided opinions—people either love them or hate them. Is the hefty price tag actually worth it?
Photo: 

Once our campus starts to resemble Narnia’s winter wonderland and the frigid temperatures eliminate any possibility of casual backyard keggers, the Queen’s student population breaks out their unintentional mass uniform. As for footwear, Uggs are for powder, fleece-lined Hunters for slush and Sorels for hardcore trekking all the way to Etherington Hall. Winter coats, on the other hand, are only Queen’s campus uniform-worthy if they’re undeniably puffy, fur-hooded, often bomber style and branded with the characteristic white circular patch with a miniaturized Arctic stitched into the center. Move over, TNA and NorthFace—Canada Goose coats are all the rage, and according to Goose enthusiasts, for good reason too. Of course, trends rarely come to be without their share of divided opinions. When the company was founded in 1957, a small warehouse in Toronto manufactured custom orders for those with job descriptions that meant a lot of standing around in the cold—provincial police departments, Arctic researchers and expeditions, the Environment Ministry and correctional officers in penitentiaries. Snow Goose, the company’s name prior to its international expansion, had only a domestic clientele for those whose jobs required heavy-duty winter wear. Now, let’s flash forward half a century. These $350 to $900 coats frequent the streets of cities and campuses across Canada where temperatures rarely dip below minus 20. After interviewing Canada Goose advocates, fashionistas and haters alike, some interesting perspectives have come about as to why one chooses to wear what CEO Dani Reiss calls the number one warmest jacket in the world. According to Annette Burfoot, a professor in the department of sociology, the Canada Goose coat carries a message that confuses the idea of both luxury and necessity. “Items that were designed for a very particular hostile environment, the cold in this case, becoming luxury items raises the question as to how we define luxury,” she said. In the past, luxury items were unnecessary and which the wealthy acquired with their disposable income to show that they could afford such extravagances. “Hyper-neccesity [is] becoming luxury,” Burfoot said. For instance, technically speaking, Canada Goose jackets go beyond the requirements (and break the bank while doing so) of Kingston winters. “You’re not just wearing a really good coat. I could go out and find another really good coat that the military wears in the arctic; it looks really distinct, but there’s more than that,” she said. “[It’s]effectively very warm and it’s making a fashion statement, if you can afford to pay $700 for a coat … without a doubt the Goose carries a certain message.” Interestingly enough, the trend of Canada Goose coats can trace back to the origin of our country. Women in England used to wear fur coats because they were a luxury item and indicated status. However, the weather across the pond is not cold enough to justify fur coats in the slightest; the women wore them but didn’t need them. As soon as England’s own beaver population was decimated, British colonizers came to Canada for the Canadian beaver population. At the same time, they encountered Northern Canadian winters where beaver pelts were a necessity and easily acquirable, so both the indigenous and colony populations wore their pelts with pride and need. As one of the most expensive coats out there, you can’t help but avoid coat check at all costs and feel extreme paranoia when taking a washroom break—there’s always a high possibility it may be swiped by a greedy Goose gobbler. Besides the klepto factor, maintaining unique style and avoiding trends plays a huge role in the big Goose debate. Clearly, mass production via foreign counterfeit companies isn’t always needed to diminish the individuality of a product. Emily Valentini, ArtSci ‘14, said she already fears her individual style is getting lost in the sea of fur hoods on campus. “I bought mine two years ago. Now everyone has them. Oh well, next year I’ll get a Parajumper,” she said, which is a more expensive and rare-find appropriation of the Goose. After making the big purchase this holiday season, Tasha Belle, Sci ’13, said she has a similar sentiment. “This year eight out of 10 girls at Queen’s have it … I get kind of jealous when I see someone wearing a warm coat that isn’t a Canada Goose.” However, she said, she loves her bomber and it’s by far the best coat she’s ever had. For some, conforming to the Goose trend is just as terrible as waiting in Frost Week’s Ale House line naked. Kenny McIntyre, Sci ’12, is the resident Alfie’s Wednesday DJ. “If I see another one, I’m going to have a brain aneurysm. They are absolutely stupid because if you wear one, you are 100 per cent establishing your status as a conformist,” he said. “Canada Goose, or Canada douche?” Claire Nelischer, ArtSci ’11, said she believes that you’re buying into mainstream culture or you’re buying into the counter culture; either way, you’re buying. “If you choose to buy a Canada Goose jacket because of the status associated with the product, you’re choosing to identify yourself with that culture and those meanings associated with it,” she said. “But if you consciously choose to buy a different coat because you wish [to] distance yourself from that culture, you’re still using your purchase to communicate your identity to others. You are using material goods to create and communicate your identity to others … So even counter culture is material culture.” Katie O’Callaghan, ArtSci ’11 and a passionate advocate of the Goose, said she has done her fair share of research and hard work to acquire her grey jacket from the Montebello Parka line. She, too, said she feels self-aware of the status and conformity associated with her coat. “I feel like I’m looked at differently because I have a Canada Goose coat. But I actually worked hard for this. I waitressed all summer,” she said. “What people don’t realize is that it’s such an investment. It’s not something that you just buy; you have to think about it.” Although she said she admits to feeling uncomfortable and judged from time to time, in the end her Goose is definitely worth it, she said. Like O’Callaghan, many students who buy Goose coats are knowledgeable consumers. Many also have ethical concerns with what they’re buying. Ever wonder why you’ve been on the Holt Renfrew wait list for the Goose coat for a year? Two words: fur shortage (thankfully). According to their website, Canada Goose employs aboriginal workers to gather coyote fur and guarantees no animals are endangered; their hunters have been culling the animals for generations. Jake Erola-Channen, ArtSci ’12 and the creative director of the Vogue Charity Fashion Show, said he’s noticed a trend in that the ethical concerns of consumers are appeased if a fur comes from indigenous people or people trapping in “traditional” methods. That also seems to be the reasoning Canada Goose is appealing to. Erola-Channen said he’s also a Goose wearer. “I’ve had my Goose for three years now and I still love it. I bought it because I worked at Walkhome in first year and needed an exceptionally warm jacket for walking at 2 a.m.,” he said. “Now you can’t walk down a street without seeing a flock of geese.” Although I’m the proud owner of a Swedish-produced Soia&Kyo knee-length black wool coat that does just the trick, I do get chilly sometimes. Having never put on a Canada Goose coat in my life, I was tempted to simply call out those trend-following, frivolous, status-craving people who have to unzip every time they step inside. However, I tried my hand at some market research when a friend from McGill lent me her Goose for my frosty weekend in Tremblant. Well, I’ll just say it. I felt like a happy Poptart nestled deeply in a toaster, invincible to the wind chill and falling flakes; a pig in a blanket. I was in heaven. I was never cold or miserable for the entire weekend. Like every single person I interviewed admitted, it is the best and warmest coat I’ve ever worn. And that is that. But who knows—maybe Canada Goose coats are so popular this year because people are wearing less and less underneath them. With the American Apparel crop top trend taking off, any other coat just wouldn’t cut it!

What's trending at Queen's?

  • Crop tops: Stores like
  • American Apparel are bringing this 90s trend back, with new ways to wear it—show just a small amount of stomach or layer with longer tops.
  • Uggs: These quickly rose to fame as a staple winter boot years ago. Although many still sport them around campus, they may be on their way out as the motorcycle boot makes its way in.
  • Blazers: No longer just for businesswear, many stores are offering a variety of styles that can complement even the most casual outfits.
  • Birkenstocks: Birks have had a longtime cult following; but many keep them exclusively for taking out the garbage.
—Kelly Loeper

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.