As students flock to Cornell for a winter semester start, $1,500 Canada Goose jackets seem to cover every corner of campus. What seems to be fueling the popularity of these coins?
Before we dive into the less obvious reasons why Canada Goose products have grown in popularity despite the business controversieshere’s a quick history lesson behind the infamous “Canadian holding of winter clothing manufacturers.”
Sam Tick founded the company in 1957 as “Metro Sportswear Ltd.” It started as a working class brand aimed at working people in Canada.
In the early 1980s, David Reiss bought the company from Tick and began making a custom parka designed to help scientists withstand one of the coldest places on earth: Antarctica. These scientists nicknamed the jacket “Big Red”.
In 1985, Reiss began marketing parkas under the “Snow Goose” name. However, once the company started selling winter coats in Europe in the early 1990s, it found that the name was already a trademark. They developed the famous modern name “Canada Goose“.
Canada Goose underwent its biggest transformation in 2001 when Reiss’ son, Dani Reiss, became the company’s president and CEO. Immediately, Dani Reiss made two major decisions for the company: produce only under the Canada Goose name and only manufacture products in Canada.
In an interview with Business Intern, Suzanne FournierProfessor Allen Questrom and Dean of Boston University, commented on the excitement behind Canada Goose’s reputation and cultural effect.
“We’re trying to find the authentic in a saturated world that’s kinda contaminated with materialism,” she said. “You get those credentials through crafting. You also get it through a brand story, where it grew out of experiences that were actually real that then turned into products.
Luxury market expert, Pamela DanzigerRecount Business Intern that “it’s unusual to see such a brand transform into a luxury brand, but Canada Goose has done this transition very well”. Canada Goose has linked prestige and notoriety to its name through mass media marketing strategies with notable projects and celebritiesamong other strategies such as features in Sports Illustrated and magazine campaigns.
Whether Canada Goose products are popular as a status symbol or because of their high quality, their company excels in sales primarily through clever marketing. Now, let’s move away from the business side and move more into a psychological analysis of Canada Goose products.
Canada Goose jackets sit between the functionality of a Patagonia jacket and the prestige and looks of a Prada jacket. Because they allow wearers versatility, they attract new buyers.
These jackets are not binding on when and where they can be worn. The possibilities are limitless. Plus, the status symbol effect of these jackets definitely makes an impact. Although many of us try to avoid this mindset, let’s face it: it’s quite tempting. We tend to quickly think of someone wearing something from Canada Goose (with jackets ranging from $500 to $1500) as someone rich. Many people desire this association. Another reason that could contribute to the popularity of Canada Goose products is the feeling of inclusivity and belonging.
“On average, 75% of the people I see on campus are wearing Canada Goose jackets,” said Julia Salatti ’25.
“I see about 50+ students wearing Canada Goose jackets daily,” said Josh Bernardino ’25.
Morgan Meddings, a student at Syracuse University, commented on the large number of students she sees wearing Canada Goose jackets, saying the vast majority of the female population and half of the male population wear Canada Goose. This repeated exposure to the brand subconsciously signals to our brains that the entire student body favors Canada Goose products. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs understands that a sense of belonging is vital for our psychological development. Subconsciously, we want to maximize our sense of place on a diverse and huge campus like Cornell – even if that sense of place is in a jacket.
When I asked Cornell students why they thought Canada Goose jackets were so popular on campus, their answers were similar. Kathryn Spiegel ’25 said they were “warm, prestigious and expensive”. Another student, Jasmine Chang ’25 cited Canada Goose jackets as a status symbol.
I think it’s safe to say that we can commend the Canada Goose marketing team for creating an aura of prestige and high quality. However, like most status symbols, its psychological effects on culture could lead to an unhealthy obsession with materialism.
Haley Qin is a freshman at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected]