Sustainability is the new fashion - Canada Goose and its controversy future of fur fashion brands

Canada Goose as a local Canadian brand has been specialized in producing winter jackets for extreme weather since 1957. It used to be known as Metro Sportswear Ltd, later it entered the European market and acquired Canada Goose as its new name. Canada Goose brand is well known for its quality down jackets that resist cold temperature up to -50C°. Many of their jackets were worn in extreme conditions. For example, in 1980, the Expedition Parka line was developed to meet the unique needs of scientists at Antarctica’s McMurdo Station. Many film crews who shoot video in extreme cold weather also consider Canada Goose as their unofficial jackets. Canada Goose Was the Fashion Icon for Winter Jackets

As of 2021, Canada Goose jackets are sold around the price range of $500 to$1500 Canadian Dollars. Their inverted north pole outline and maple symbol at their logo has already become a sign of a certain social class, Canada Goose “is” the luxury winter jackets. It is not surprising to see people were held up and robbed of their Canada Goose jackets on the street during winter time.

Canada Goose was planning for its ambitious global expansion in 2016. However, shortly after its flagship stores in Toronto and New York opened doors, something notorious happened and delayed their grand plan.

For the last 11 years, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) have been protesting against Canada Goose for using coyote fur and goose down for their jackets. Many coyotes were caught in the wild instead of raised in farms. Therefore, PETA accused Canada Goose for using wild cough coyotes fur, and complaining that animals' lives ended in brutal ways. During the protest against Canada Goose, PETA members performed as dead animals bleeding on the sidewalks outside of Canada Goose’s flagship stores. They also accused Canada Goose customers of wearing “hate symbols” and “dog furs”.


PETA also released a video showing geese raised for Canada Goose’s jackets were brutally treated in JVC Farm ( a Manitoba farm called James Valley Colony Farms), Peta claim JVC farm is supplying geese down for Canada Goose . Even Though Canada Goose denied JVC farm as their supplier, yet PETA proved with an old video published by Canada goose confirming people from JVC farm are legal employees.

Customers were also terrified by the bloody protest in front of Canada Goose stores, which dramatically reduced store traffic.

As a result of negative public images, Canada Goose’s stock price plummeted in early August 2019. Canada Goose’s shares slumped 28% on 29th May 2019.


The Redemption

How can Canada Goose survive this extremely negative brand image in the eyes of the public? Sustainable and cruelty-free is no longer something “nice to have”, but is critical to the brand reputation of a consumer brand, hence critical to the bottomline.

In response to this crisis, Canada Goose initiated a few major sustainable projects to really change the way they manufacture jackets.

In early 202, Canada Goose announced that they would end the purchase of new animal fur by the end of 2022. Instead of killing more animals to acquire fur, all Canada Goose jackets would use reclaimed fur from old cloth through its Fur Buy Back Program.

Meanwhile in their sustainable report 2020, Canada Goose were committed to produce more sustainable products with less water waste and carbon footprint. They Maintain carbon neutrality annually by investing in projects that reduce, avoid, or sequester the equivalent of 200% of each year’s greenhouse gas emissions until achieving net zero emissions by 2025. They also decided to Eliminate single-use plastics such as shrink wrap — in all facilities Canada Goose owns or controls. They are at 20% progress in Transition from Canada Goose’s world-class Down Transparency Standard (DTS) to the global Responsible Down Standard (RDS) by the end of 2021.


Furthermore, Canada Goose launched the Ajita Project, which aimed at helping native Inuit sewers who hand-make jackets and clothing for their families and community. Two inaugural Canada Goose Resource Centres were established in the Canadian Arctic. They also partnered up with PBI( to provide polar bears’ conservation and preservation of the sea ice they depend on.


These initiatives received tremendous positive feedback among consumers and media. Other luxury brands that use animal byproducts in their jackets and handbags soon followed suit and released similar plans to reduce waste and become animal cruelty-free.For example, Moose knuckles,a Canadian winter jacket brand and a direct competitor of Canada Goose, released their Animal Welfare Announcements, emphasizing on its responsible supply chain and the “five freedoms” of animal welfare:

  • Freedom from hunger and thirst by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigour.

  • Freedom from discomfort through an appropriate environment, including shelter and a comfortable resting area.

  • Freedom from pain, injury or disease by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment.

  • Freedom to express normal behaviour by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal’s own kind.

  • Freedom from fear and distress by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering.”

Moncler, another global fashion brand,known for its luxury winter jackets, also soon announced the “born to protect protocol”. Moncler promised to become carbon neutral in its manufacturing process, to recycle fabric scraps and use sustainable nylon, as well as to eliminate single-use plastics in their products. Moncler would also recycle DIST-certified* down in order to reduce water waste. However, the whole fur-fashion industry is facing challenges, many people would rather choose a new sustainable brand than fur-fashion brands. With that being said, Moncler’s Year to year growth from 2019-2020 dropped about 11% compared to before.

Conclusion

Today, consumers are increasingly awaring of sustainability and environmental issues in the products they purchase. In the luxury fashion industry, one of the main reasons for consumers to pay high price is to show their social status and vocalize what they stand for by wearing the brands they believe in. When consumer’s ideologies and beliefs shift, brands must evolve with the consumers.

More than ever, luxury brands like Gucci, Prada promised to no longer use real furs. More cruelty-free cosmetic brands with no animal testing became trending and popular. On the other hand, brands that act slowly suffer from negative reputation and media coverage. Their brand status and, most importantly, their bottom lines suffer. The future of the luxury fashion industry is going to have a huge question mark with the raising awareness of sustainability. Brand strategist, regardless of luxury or not, should take sustainability seriously as it affects the bottomline



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