Friday, March 23, 2018

Winter Ushers in Unjust Arrival of Canada Goose



The first cold snap of the academic year has arrived and every Bantam knows what that means: the arrival of a certain high-end down jacket. While real Canadian geese fly south for the winter, these outerwear birds prefer to nest at New England’s elite colleges and universities. Canada Goose is without a doubt one of the most prominent winter staples at Camp Trin and similar schools. The jackets can be spotted from a mile away with their coyote fur collars and iconic patches, showing not Canada, but Antarctica, perhaps to further confuse the brand’s detractors. Few fashion companies are as polarizing as the Goose, but maybe that’s the draw.

Canada Goose is a unique brand. While costly down jackets are ubiquitous in New England and other quasi-Arctic tundras, Canada Goose manages to charge its fiercely loyal customers an exorbitant sum per jacket. Each parka typically costs in excess of $1000. While that might be a reasonable price for a Brooks Brothers suit, it is a little hard to justify that for a jacket. One of Canada Goose’s leading competitors in the realm of preppy campus fashion is the environmentally conscious brand Patagonia. Much like their Canadian rivals, the Patagonia brand is well known for its high quality down jackets. Offered in a myriad of colors and styles, the “Patagucci” down jacket costs around $230. Is Patagonia cheap? Absolutely not, but $230 is an absolute steal compared to the $1000 for the standard Goose offering.

But can a brand really be considered stylish if it fails to raise moral dilemmas? Canada Goose buyers must think so; because not only does the brand have a questionable environmental record, but it still utilizes genuine coyote fur on the hoods of many of its jackets. The issue of animal cruelty seems to be twofold with most Canada Goose offerings. Working real fur and down into one jacket will put any manufacturer on PETA’s list of enemies. In recent years, there have been several scandals involving animal cruelty in the production of down for jackets. Down filler is usually the feathers of geese. In a number of cases, the feathers are forcibly plucked from the living bodies of these animals without any sort of pain killers. This occurred in facilities where the geese were also force-fed large amounts of food so that their livers could be used for foie gras. This occurred primarily in Eastern Europe and China, and in the wake of the scandal many brands moved towards creating a chain of supply that was 100% traceable. Animal Rights activists claim that this is not enough, arguing that there is no such thing as completely traceable down. They advocate for the use of artificial down instead.

The trouble with artificial down is that it would logically drive down the price of the jackets, and who on earth wants a $200 Canada Goose jacket? Author Hunter S. Thompson once called the Kentucky Derby “decadent and depraved,” and the same goes for Canada Goose. If a person is willing to spend a grand on a jacket that is no better in form or function than its $200 rival, then they are not concerned with the moral or ethical implications of that purchase. Could that thousand dollars have been better spent? Of course it could have; one could buy two Patagonia jackets and still have $560 left over. There are people struggling to eat around the world, in the United States, and right here in Hartford. But with a Canada Goose parka you can be warm and secure from troubling thoughts like how many families you could have fed if you had bought a cheaper jacket and donated the remainder. So stay toasty, look good, and never worry about less fortunate, human and animal alike.


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