t’s that time of year again — temperatures are dropping, the days are shorter and Canada Goose jackets are out in all their glory, ready to battle the frigid cold. Canada Goose jackets have become a symbol of both status and fashion for those who are lucky enough to own one, standing out from the crowd with their luxurious fur trim and bright Arctic Circle logo sewn onto the sleeve. In fiscal year 2019, Canada Goose’s revenue increased 40.5 percent, and it is expected to grow at least 20 percent over the next three years. As these jackets become increasingly popular in colder regions, people should reconsider following this fashion trend because of the ethical consequences of using real coyote fur.
The company was founded by Sam Tick, who immigrated to Canada and worked to provide people in the coldest places on the planet with heavy-duty cold weather gear nearly 60 years ago. His company was originally called Metro Sportswear Ltd. and focused on raincoats, woolen vests and snowmobile suits. Over the years, however, the company shifted focus toward parkas. Canada Goose jackets have been worn by climber Laurie Skreslet in his trek up Mount Everest, by world-record setting Lance Mackey, who won numerous dog sledding races in the Arctic and Ray Zahab, who walked to the South Pole in record time. Canada Goose holds a proud history of protecting these people, among many others, from extreme temperatures and brutal conditions.
With these examples in mind, the quality and effectiveness of the jackets is undeniable. According to Canada Goose’s Fur and Down Policy, the trim of the jacket hood is made of real fur because it “disrupts airflow which helps protect the face from frostbite.” As the company’s history suggests, Canada Goose jackets are built to withstand the cold, and therefore they are committed to using the best materials possible. Fur has been used by Inuit people in the Arctic for thousands of years, which speaks to its effectiveness in protecting the face from extreme cold and wind. Unlike companies like Canada Goose, Inuit populations are an example of small-scale, necessary and non-commercialized use of real fur. Fur should not be finding its way back into the jacket industry — this is where synthetic materials belong. While some may find real fur to be warmer, I find synthetic materials to be just as effective in protecting against the cold.
While these Canada Goose jackets are crafted with the spirit of adventure in mind, we must acknowledge the original purpose of Canada Goose and question our participation in a company that uses real coyote fur. Jackets that were designed for the extreme cold are now being used by ordinary people in far more ordinary weather conditions. Climbers and Arctic-goers are not the only ones purchasing Canada Goose jackets — they have become noticeably popular among college students. The rise in popularity of Canada Goose may be a result of the media and celebrities, as well as film. The parkas have made appearances in movies such as “National Treasure” and were photographed on David Beckham and Claire Danes, as well as Kate Upton on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine in 2013. The use of real fur always comes at a cost, regardless of the manner in which the animal was killed, and we must seriously weigh our options when considering purchasing these jackets.
Canada Goose’s transparency standards describe the “ethical” sourcing of the down used for their jackets as a “byproduct of the poultry industry,” and the coyote fur comes from North American trappers that are “strictly regulated by state, provincial and federal standards.” Canada Goose only purchases fur from North American trappers who assist in managing coyote populations. However, through this process of supply and demand, more coyotes may be killed than are strictly necessary to prevent overpopulation, which could upset the ecological balance. Down is less of an issue than the coyote fur, being that it is simply a byproduct of the poultry industry, which can be seen as more ethical in that more parts of the bird will not go to waste.
While these standards regarding fur and down make the company more reputable, the use of real fur remains highly controversial despite claims of ethical sourcing. It is cruel and unnecessary on the consumer’s end to purchase real fur. Canada Goose is supplying the demands of its consumers; therefore, we have encouraged the trapping and killing of coyotes by purchasing the coats. Coyote fur is in huge demand because of Canada Goose and that demand will likely continue to grow if this trend continues.
It is shocking and disgusting to see real fur reappearing in fashion — especially by college-age consumers. Real fur should be used by those who really need it, not by city-goers or college students looking to flaunt their status and style with a dead animal’s pelt sewn onto their hood. The decision to purchase and wear real fur simply cannot be justified by the majority of people who own these jackets. While many Binghamton University students, including myself, may feel like they are trekking through the Arctic on their way to class or climbing Mount Everest when walking up to the Appalachian Collegiate Center, there is truly no need for any of us to own one of these jackets. It’s time that we open our eyes to the reality of the trend we are helping to set, and seriously consider our choice to support the fur industry.
Sophia LoBiondo is a sophomore majoring in political science.