Fashion Faux Paw.

Photo by jm2c | flickr.com

Photo by jm2c | flickr.com

Until recently, I worked full-time at a retail store which sold all the traditional accoutrements that go along with outdoor adventure. Tents, sleeping bags, gloves, packs, coats - we had it all. During my time there, one trend in consumer behaviour caught my attention more than others.

The typical consumer at the store was a pretty rugged individual, usually bearded, the kind of person who could make a fire without matches and without much trouble. There were also customers who just appreciated the value of good quality merchandise. They would buy a nice winter coat and boots so they could comfortably get through the sometimes frigid Southern Ontario winters. There was also a third kind of customer. They were rare, but their numbers were, and still are, growing. This customer would come into the store, usually while on the phone, ignore you until they were lost, and then ask where the Canada Goose coats were, their jaw clenched and eyes narrowed from the suffering associated with communicating with someone who they clearly perceived to be below them.

Canada Goose is a brand that had grown exponentially in the past 5 years. They make arctic calibre coats, gloves, hats, and pants. A Canada Goose coat, as the name suggests is insulated with down feathers, which they actually get mostly from ducks. The down is not of a particularly high quality; most people in the industry would classify it as third or forth tier. The more expensive coats, which will run in the area of $500-600CAD, are topped off with a fur-rimmed hood. The fur comes from coyotes. The coyotes are trapped, killed, skinned, and discarded, hopefully in that order, for the sole purpose of making coats. Regardless of the company’s practices with respect to obtaining the fur, the fact is they are killing wild animals, and that should not be overlooked.

Unfortunately, the distain of the new, typical Canada Goose customer transcends human interaction and includes how they feel about animals and human impact on the environment as well. Don’t get me wrong, there are certain people who can truly make good use of such a garment. They work in the arctic or Antarctic, outdoors, and without the warmest possible clothing they are risking not only their comfort, but their lives. That kind of person is rare. So rare that I can say, with absolute certainty, that they are not responsible for the boom in Canada Goose’s business. It is outrageous that people can be so callous and irresponsible. I have seen university students running around campus in the rain in Canada Goose parkas. You don’t have to be a genius to realize that it only rains when the temperature is above zero and that parkas would not be worn unless someone simply wanted to be seen wearing it.

If you live somewhere where you would feel uncertain about making a skating rink in your backyard and you know someone that lives near by who owns a Canada Goose coat, berate them. Canada Goose is a company like any other. They are responsible for making money and selling what people demand. Recently, a photo has been circulating online that shows a pile of skinned coyote carcasses behind what is implied to be a Canada Goose factory. Many people’s first reaction to this photo is to blame to company, calling them evil or heartless. The truth is, it is less their fault than it is the fault of everyone who owns a parka and doesn’t need it. The self centred, city-dwelling, text while driving, uninformed and proud of it, person who didn’t hold the door for you and was, coincidentally, wearing a Canada Goose jacket put those bodies there. They shouldn’t be allowed to forget about them.