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Polar bear figurines carved out of soapstone. A flat screen playing a scene of trekkers trudging through blizzards. A polished marble cash register station from a quarry in British Columbia that looks like a giant glacier. Dozens of winter coats trimmed with coyote fur and ready to tackle -15 degree weather.
This isn’t a scene from the Arctic, but the interiors of the new Canada Goose Soho store in downtown Manhattan. When the outerwear brand opens its flagship this Thursday, it will be Canada Goose’s first store in America, and only its second retail location (Toronto’s Yorkdale store opened last month).
Canada Goose doesn’t need its own store in the middle of New York City to prove its worth; it’s already staked its claim as a wildly popular outerwear brand, evolving the ugly puffy coat into a legitimate luxury item. But with the brand’s rapid pace of growth, playing in the brick-and-mortar space was the inevitable next step.
“Who knows about cold better than Canadians?” says Dani Reiss, Canada Goose’s president and CEO. “And what better brand to bring that expertise to New York? The city has truly become our home away from home, so I’m excited to show New Yorkers all that Canada Goose has to offer.”
In 1957 Canada Goose was called Metro Sportswear; it made men’s outerwear for Canadian park rangers and police officers in Ontario. It was also an independent contractor for brands like Eddie Bauer, L.L.Bean, and Timberland. After Reiss took over the brand in 2001 from his father (Reiss’s grandfather started the company), he changed the name to Canada Goose, moved manufacturing solely to Canada, and stopped making merchandise for other companies. He repositioned Canada Goose as a high-end retailer and made a hard push for international markets, finding swift success all across Europe, and then eventually in Canada and the US.
Now sold in stores like Barneys, Nordstrom, and Bloomingdale’s, Canada Goose goes head to head with competing luxury outerwear brand Moncler. Its coats are expensive, starting at $400 and running all the way up to $1,300. And yet, they're ubiquitous in cities and on screens. The company’s sales have skyrocketed from $150 million in 2013 to over $300 million in 2015, according to AdAge. If these numbers don’t convince you, look around once the temperature drops and count the number of patches with Canada Goose's logo — a blue and red map of the Arctic, enclosed with Canadian maple leaves — affixed to the coats of people everywhere. The brand’s reached peak business goals, according to Bloomberg — it’s heading to IPO as early as 2017, and could be valued at as much as $2 billion.
The hype behind Canada Goose doesn’t just come from its extremely durable products, which promise to battle any sort of brutal cold front with the duck down and coyote fur that has PETA completely up in arms. The brand has also leveraged plenty of cool. At the Soho store, Canada Goose will be selling pieces from its collaboration with Opening Ceremony, which includes a silk parka with a paisley pattern that’s selling for $1,795. It’s partnered with Drake’s OVO, Marc Jacobs... and of course, Vetements. Clearly keen on setting itself up with the fashion folk, Canada Goose released a new fit last year called Fusion, a more flattering version of its bulky winter coats that will better fit customers “with smaller body frames” (read: women who actually want to look good in a coat).
Canada Goose will likely be opening more stores in the US, though the company won’t confirm if there are any new locations in the works at this time. It’s in good company in Soho, down the street from competing upscale outerwear companies like Woolrich, Mackage, Barbour — and yes, Moncler — in addition to mainstream outerwear stores like The North Face.
According to WWD, there have been lines just to get into the Toronto store ever since it opened last month; Canada Goose is hoping to have a similar response in New York City. The Wall Street Journal might think the popularity of the coats has made Canada Goose lose its novelty, but all signs point to shoppers enthusiastically endorsing the Antarctic explorer look.