What is Canada Goose? To some people, it’s just a clothing brand. They make great winter jackets. To others, it’s something more. “It’s a clothing brand; they make winter jackets for rich people,” they’ll say. “Their products cost between $500 and $1500.”
Many people hate Canada Goose. Many people like wearing Canada Goose, but don’t know how much it hurts people to see them wearing at $500 coat. So why is it so much worse than other brands?
The badge. It’s instantly recognizable. And trust me, everyone, whether you have enough money to buy those things or not, recognizes them. And everyone who doesn’t have enough money to buy them, even those who are technically affluent, is infuriated by them. In one wry comment from a Wesleying blog post last semester, the user Maury famously called them the “winter coat of choice for Wesleyan students who get monthly allowances and who go to the Bahamas for Christmas.” A bit harsh, but true.
It seems to me that most people who wear Canada Goose don’t do it to make other people feel jealous or out of place. They were just looking for a warm winter jacket, and they heard about this brand online or were recommended it by their friends. It seemed like a good choice, and money isn’t a problem for them, so they bought it. I’m going to assume, for the purpose of this essay, that, by and large, people don’t wear Canada Goose out of brash insensitivity, but rather because they were unaware of what their choice meant to those outside the top 10 percent income bracket in the United States. Maybe they do know, but because no one tells them and because they don’t have many friends with a background radically different from their own, it’s not something they think about that much. To them, it’s like buying clothes made in a sweatshop—it’s like buying Nike. Maybe deep down we know it’s a morally dubious thing to do, but we do it anyway because we think that we can’t be expected to do better.
But we can do better.
Perhaps the best way to persuade you that you need to stop wearing Canada Goose is to outline why these coats make people so angry.
You see, the Canada Goose badge is a bit like a sign, a cultural marker. It’s ignorance, wealth, economic inequality, arrogance, waste, and class insensitivity all rolled up into a two-by-two inch badge.
Perhaps you want me to stop reading into this so much, to just get over it. “Why Canada Goose?” you might say, when there are so many other overpriced and silly clothing brands that Wesleyan students wear. True enough. I’m not quite sure why Canada Goose specifically has gotten a bad rap instead of, I don’t know, Versace or Supreme (I don’t know many clothing brands, sorry).
Maybe it’s because there is just something especially ridiculous about spending so much money on an item that’s supposed to be purely for utilitarian purposes. A winter jacket, it’s supposed to keep you warm, not make you stylish. Spending upwards of $500 on a fancy pair of shoes and designer shirt, oddly, is actually more acceptable. They’re supposed to cost money, they still seem unnecessary, but they don’t scream “excess” like Canada Goose does. It’s like buying a really expensive carabiner. It’s not just unnecessary, it’s also a sign that money didn’t enter into your calculations when you decided to buy it. That you live a life free of want. (Material want, that is. Spiritual want and deprivation among the American upper classes is another article altogether.)
It’s when an item that’s meant to be useful becomes a style choice that people start to get angry. Not that we can’t have good looking clothes, but to spend over $500 (as much as $1000) on a winter coat is simply unnecessary.
And Canada Goose is so unnecessary. Trust me; I grew up in this part of this country and I can tell you that, while I may be used to it, you simply don’t need to spend that kind of money to get a coat that keeps you perfectly warm during the winter months, or that looks good. I’m not the best to ask for alternate recommendations of clothing brands, but I’m sure there are cheaper clothes that carry out the same effect. I don’t know, maybe I just show my provinciality by arguing that you’d be fine with a cheaper brand. But you would be; there’s no getting around how needless these coats are. And that’s the second point of contention people have with them.
So now that I’ve made you cripplingly self-aware of the full meaning of the symbol you’re toting around with you, and about how bad you’re making everyone feel because of it, you might have a few responses. I’m going to be pedantic and address each in turn.
“Telling rich people to stop wearing a clothing brand doesn’t stop them from being rich. This is a surface-level solution that fails to address deeper questions of economic equality in this country.” Do we want you to hide your wealth? Yes. Will this suddenly make us forget that this school is populated by trust-fund babies? No. We just don’t want it shoved in our face all the time, with that little blue and red badge that screams out, “My family has more wealth than 75 percent of the population of the richest country on the face of the earth.” For all Wesleyan students’ talk of cultural and class sensitivity, wearing something like that is profoundly insensitive.
“But that means I have to conform to other people’s expectations of me!” That’s right. You actually want to make a difference, this is how you start.
“You expect too much of me. I’m just going to keep wearing it. After reading this article, I’m going to forget about your argument and keep living my life.” True enough. But suppose people band together and mount a more concerted campaign against these jackets. Suppose people actually start calling you out for it. We can make it difficult for you to escape your guilty conscience.
“My parents made this money, so I deserve to live this lifestyle.” Ha! That’s a good one.
“You’re limiting student expression.” Ha! That’s a good one.
“Stop judging me based on the clothes that I’m wearing.” Someone made this argument when they wrote a pro-Goose op-ed in 2015. I’m not even going to offer a rebuttal.
Also, while we’re on the topic of who’s got the better social conscience here, all of these jackets are stuffed with dead bird feathers (Canada GOOSE). So I’m sure that’s quite ethical. Sure PETA loves that. But moving on…
“You want to make Wes people feel bad about what clothes they wear? Isn’t that kind of mean?” You’re the one being insensitive. Just stop wearing the coat. We can’t always be expected to react calmly about these things.
“Aren’t there bigger fish to fry?” Absolutely. But there aren’t that many fish that can be fried right now. Put the jacket away and buy something cheaper. It’s that simple.
So I think we’re done here. To sum up: You should stop wearing Canada Goose for the following three reasons:
So that’s my case. I’ll leave you with a parting note:
People are getting angrier and angrier at the excesses of the rich and the ineptitude of the ruling elite. Canada Goose is just another (admittedly minor) episode in this ongoing series. Other entries include the college admissions scandal, the Epstein scandals, Donald Trump, Zuck, the ’08 Crash, the Iraq War, Boeing, I could go on. You carry on like this and see how long it takes for people to start taking action.