made in canada
Baby, it’s cold outside! Trusted by Arctic adventurers and Hollywood alike, Canada Goose are the go-to jacket for extreme temperatures, and winter is coming so you better get to know…
Whether it's Rebeca Romijn covering up her blue, scaly body paint as Mystique in X-Men, Andrew Garfield adding an extra layer to his skin-tight Spidey-suit in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, or the cast and crew of Suicide Squad sheltering from the cold away from the cameras whilst filming in Toronto, Canada Goose has had an epic relationship with the film industry, on and off screen. Known as the "unofficial jacket of film crews everywhere it's cold," Canada Goose have kitted out Hollywood's cast and crew for over 25 years, making it's on screen debut in National Treasure and The Day After Tomorrow. Founded nearly 60 years ago and having their Expedition Parka (nicknamed Big Red) become standard issue at McMurdo Station in Antarctica, the high-quality craftsmanship, premium materials and functionality mean their jackets are perfect to ensure those working on film sets in extreme conditions are comfortable enough and most importantly, warm enough, to focus on the art at hand. As they kick off the season of film festivals as an official sponsor of Toronto International Film Festival, and gear up for Busan, Berlinale and Sundance, we chat to Spencer Orr, VP Design & Merchandising, about Canada Goose's Made in Canada ethos, their history with Hollywood, and how to survive a night at the North Pole...
How did Canada Goose get involved with the Toronto International Film Festival?
This is the fourth year that we've sponsored TIFF and the reason behind it was because it's in our own back yard. We're supporting the Canadian industry because they have supported us for many years. We go back 20 plus years working on and off the film sets and it just feels like a natural progression. We got to the place in the company's growth where we could really help support the industry. We support the best Canadian Feature Film and provide an award at the end of the festival. We try to keep a focus on Canadian talent, and Canadian up and coming industry influencers and things like that. As you know it's an international festival so the whole world has it's eyes on Toronto which is pretty cool, and it just gives us the opportunity to showcase our roots in Toronto.
Canada Goose has a lot of history with the film industry…
We started working behind the scenes so when it's cold we would support the crew and then eventually they came out and said, "If we're going to make an authentic film in a cold atmosphere, we should use Canada Goose to make sure that the film is also authentic."
What are your favourite films that Canada Goose has been featured in?
I like Eight Below because I'm a dog lover. Also the one with Liam Neeson, The Grey.
Craftsmanship and local manufacture are really important to the brand, tell us a bit about the factory and the process of making a jacket…
Everything we make is made in Canada. We come up with the design, the concept and the development and then walk in the back [to the factory] and actually design it with the pattern makers and the sample sewers. The factory is just so special. We're made in Canada, we're an authentic Canadian brand and it just makes sense to make stuff here in one of the coldest places on earth.
Where did you start with designing the autumn/winter 15 collection?
We're really fortunate that we have a core colour palette, a core style collection and an aesthetic that we're known for. The ultimate direction for my entire team is that you have to remain true to the brand, you have to remain authentic, and it has to work. But we also keep track of trends, we do a lot of international travel, a lot of trade shows, watching feedback of what's working and what's not. At the end of the day though everything has to have a purpose, everything has to work. That's the way we start. When it comes to the really technical pieces, like our Technical Shells or HyBridge Lite, any of that, we want to think about that end user, what are they going to be doing in the jacket, and make sure they have the right features for that.
Canada Goose started out as a really high-end performance wear, when did you pick up that people started wearing it for its fashion appeal?
I think it still is very performance/outer wear, everything still works, even though some of our styles are more fashionable silhouettes. But the number one goal always is to keep you warm. That's where things like our TEI [Thermal Experience Index] ratings come in to play, realising that that person is not living in Antarctica or the Arctic, that person's more in an urban setting and that's what they need, so it's more functional.
Do you think it's a good thing that you're starting to see it on the city streets, not just in extreme conditions?
I think being popular is great, and people will buy it knowing that they're making an investment. It's truly timeless and I think people understand the "Made in Canada" bit. It's like a Land Rover right, it still works in the snow, it works in the mud, you know you're getting the real hardcore deal, regardless of whether it's the Evoque or the full Land Rover.
Tell me about your collaboration with Drake…
We've done three, there will be an upcoming fourth one, through his OVO group. It's fun! Being homegrown - he's from Toronto and he has a lot of respect for Canada in general, and he was a supporter of Canada Goose when we were small and we were a supporter of him when he was small, so it works out really well. And it's nice, you talk about that mix of fashion and function, this definitely has a fashion aesthetic, but it's rooted still in the DNA of Canada Goose. In this day and age collaborations are really important, and honestly it's fun to work with another brand, they have their story but ultimately we just come together to make a good product.
Have you been to the North Pole?
I just got back from the North Pole! It was awesome, I was like a kid in a candy store. We left from Svalbard, which is the northern part of Norway, then to Barneo, this Russian base camp, then we got this old beat up helicopter to the North Pole, that was actually the scariest part of the trip. The helicopter's only supposed to have like 15 people in it but it had four sleds and about 40 of us in it, I could see through the creases of the helicopter door, there were bullet holes in the bottom of it so I could see what was going on, I leaned back and the window opened on me… that was the scariest part of the trip! But it was fun. We brought a bunch of Snow Mantras, HyBridge Lite Jackets and our down pants, so in every condition I got to try something different. You know what's fun about it, in that helicopter, looking around at the 40 people, about 25 of us had Canada Goose on. The amount of people who just picked that jacket because they were going north, it's like that's the uniform, this is what you wear to be guaranteed to stay warm.
How do you actually test them when you're there?
Just use them. Beat the crap out of them! That's the number one thing. Also even internally we have a testing program so at any point any member of staff can take any jacket, they go beat it up for a week and we get their feedback. We're constantly tweaking stuff. I would be lying if I said I didn't creep Facebook to see how people say, "I love this jacket but…" That kind of feedback's great.
What were conditions like when you were out there?
It was May and I think it was -27°C. There was one guy in the helicopter who skydived, and another guy who cut a hole in the ice and he dove in. He did 70 feet underwater and got back up and put his Canada Goose jacket on! It was an amazing trip.
What tips would you give someone going to the North Pole for the first time?
It depends what level of excitement you want but I think; make sure you have someone who is very organised, take your camera, take as many pictures as you can - I didn't take enough looking back - and ultimately pick the right gear. Just make sure you've got gear that's going to protect you and you feel safe with it. Test it before you go, if possible. So if you're going in winter, go outside and test your stuff, don't show up taking tags off of stuff because that's just the silliest thing you could do.
How do you see the brand developing over the next few years?
I think you'll see that we always stay true to our heritage and true to our roots. You'll see a lot of our core pieces continue to evolve, you'll see extensions off of that, you'll also see more in the lightweight categories; our rain shells, technical shells, soft shells, those have so much opportunity for us. People trust and love the brand right now, so it's not right to only be limited to winter. We just launched our first Spring collection this past year, and we're excited to start building out that category year after year.