Canada Goose CEO Dani Reiss on why he opened shop in Paris
Dec 20, 2019
Canada Goose opened a swish new flagship in a superb location in Paris this December, at the crossroads of rue Royale and rue Saint-Honoré. An airy, ruggedly modernist space that even includes a Cold Room to try on the brand’s legendary parkas. Practically de rigueur for movie stars and film crews on location, the rapidly growing Canadian brand now boasts some 20 boutiques in three continents. We caught up with its CEO Dani Reiss, whose grandfather Samuel Tick, a Polish Jewish immigrant fabric cutter, founded the brand in 1957, to discuss his plans for this uniquely positioned label.
FashionNetwork.com (FNW): Why are you opening a flagship in Paris at this time?
Dani Reiss (DR): We’ve been in Europe almost 20 years with a strong demand for our product in the region. Opening up a store in one of the world’s biggest fashion capitals has always been a dream of mine. Our Paris store brings together the essence of our brand with the spirit of Paris, using natural materials and furniture from both Canada and France.
FNW: Why at this location on the rue Faubourg Saint-Honoré?
DR: We’re extremely strategic when it comes to locations for our retail stores. Every country and every city is different – it’s about finding world class locations as we did here in Paris with the rue Saint Honoré. This street is known to be a premier shopping destination in Europe and we’re proud to bringing a piece of Canada to such an iconic place.
FNW: How have you tailored your offer for the French market?
DR: The store includes the full assortment of our product line from Parkas to Rainwear; Windwear; Knitwear; Lightweight Down and accessories, offering protection for every type of weather. The Paris store is also the first to feature a room dedicated to our youth, kids and baby products. It includes the second of our renowned Cold Room in Europe (after Milan), which is an immersive experience where customers can test our warmest parkas in temperatures as low as minus 25 degrees Celsius to find the perfect jacket for their adventure. This experience is a natural extension of what our brand is built on: an authentic product that works.
FNW: Define the DNA of Canada Goose? How has the DNA of Canada Goose evolved since its launch by Sam Tick?
DR: Authenticity is at the core of Canada Goose. We make authentic products that work, and that’s engrained in our DNA. I truly believe that there’s no other brand out there like Canada Goose. What sets us apart is that we are a real brand with strong values and products that perform. Real brands have a history, heritage, reputation – and that can’t be invented overnight.
Being made in Canada is one of the strongest pillars of our success. About 15 years ago, many other apparel manufacturers moved their production offshore to improve profit margins, but I knew that if we stayed, being made in Canada could become a competitive advantage. I believed then, and still do today, that people care how and where products are made. A Canada Goose jacket made in Canada is like a Swiss watch made in Switzerland. So for us to be an authentic brand with strong, iconic values, it’s imperative that we make our core down-filled parkas here, at home.
FNW: In your view, how has a brand worn for decades by the Mounties and the Canadian police force managed to become loved by the worlds of hip hop and entertainment?
DR: We’ve had a relationship with the film & entertainment industry for decades. It started with our jackets being requested by crews for long outdoor shoots as well as warming coats for talent in between takes. With film crews using our jackets to protect against the elements on some of the coldest movie sets in the world, filmmakers then began to request them for on camera opportunities as well, to authenticate scenes set in cold environments. We then saw actors started wearing our jackets off set for everyday use too.
Canada Goose products have helped validate cold weather scenes in films for years – I believe the first was The Day After Tomorrow and more recently on TV Shows like Outlander, The Crown, The Bay as well as on the set of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
FNW: What have you been doing in terms of the environment?
DR: We believe doing good is good for business and that’s been engrained in our DNA as a brand for over 60 years. For example, a lifetime warranty is something we’ve always been committed to: making quality products that last and people trust to protect them for years – and often generations.
Giving back for us is a bit different than what you would normally see at any other company – it's built into our business model. Canada Goose was built on authenticity and we are proud of our Canadian identity heritage. As a company that was bornin the north, we believe that we have a responsibility to protect it. Whether it’s through our partnership with PBI or our Resource Centres Program, it’s important for us to give back to the communities and places that have been part of our brand.
Through our Resource Centres Program, we have been donating excess fabric and materials to communities in the North For over 10 years, and to date, have donated over two million meters of fabric. With this program, we can give back in a tangible, meaningful way to a community that has inspired our brand. Sewing is an important part of the community in the North and has been used as a way of life for centuries, using sewing techniques that have been passed down through generations. Our program gives these communities access to fabric they otherwise wouldn’t have access to or would find too expensive. With our material they’re able to make parkas and other things like snow pants and even tents, for family and friends in their communities.
FNW: How have you been helping the Polar Bears of Canada?
DR: We have been a long-standing partner of Polar Bears International (PBI) for over 10 years, the only organization dedicated solely to polar bear conservation and the sea ice they depend on. I serve as a director and previously have served as Chairman of the Board. Through our dedicated PBI Collection, a capsule collection of parkas and lightweight jackets made in the exclusive PBI Blue Pantone to symbolizing sea ice, Canada Goose donates $50 with each sale, providing critical funding for polar bear and environmental research and advocacy. As a result of our 10-year partnership, we have contributed more than $3 million to PBI.
From the beginning, our parkas were made to conquer the most extreme conditions from the North to the South Pole and almost anywhere in between. Our Expedition Parka for example was specifically developed for scientists working in McCurdo Station, Antarctica. Since then, we have continued to provide protection, comfort and warmth to those who experience and work in some of the coldest places on Earth such as the ground crews on First Air (Canada’s Northern Airline), but also PBI researchers and scientists who work in harsh Arctic conditions for extended periods of time – so everything we make has to work, and has to be the best.
FNW: In the era of no-fur, will you continue to use coyote fur trim?
DR: Our products are designed and built to protect against the elements in the coldest places on Earth – places where exposed skin can freeze in an instant. In these environments, we believe that fur is the best choice: having fur trim around a jacket hood disrupts airflow which helps protect the face from frostbite, and it’s a natural, sustainable material.
We also believe that wearing fur is a personal choice and we remain focused on and deeply committed to the responsible use and ethical sourcing of all materials we use in our products. We also have a balanced product assortment where more than half of our collection does not have fur.
We have always been committed to being transparent about where and how we make our products, including the ethical sourcing and responsible use of animal products. We have very clear policies about the use of fur and down which are available on our website. The Canada Goose Fur and Down Transparency Standards go above and beyond what is required by industry regulations, and our goal is to ensure that all materials we use are sourced from animals that have not been subjected to unfair practices, inhumane treatment or undue harm.
FNW: How important has cinema been in building your brand reputation?
DR: Canada Goose has had an organic relationship and worked closely with the film and entertainment community for over 20 years outfitting talent both on camera to authenticate any scenes set in cold environments, and off camera to keep them warm during shoots. In fact, through our work within the industry, we are now known as the (un)official jacket of film crews everywhere it’s cold. We as well have been supporting film festivals and studios throughout the years. For example, we are a sponsor of the Sundance Film Festival since 2013, The Toronto Film Festival since 2012 and a partner to Studio Babelsberg for more than five years, the oldest large-scale film studio in the world, based outside of Berlin.
We are proud to support an industry that is so close to our brand and celebrate the hard work of those who have experienced the unparalleled functionality and warmth of our products.
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