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:

  1. They’re a symbol of insensitivity. They telegraph to everyone around you—and I do mean everyone—that you either don’t know or don’t care about what other people are going through.
  2. They’re unnecessary. Southern New England is bad, but it’s not the Antarctic.
  3. They’re unethical. They’re stuffed with bird feathers.

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. 


Trent Babington is a member of the class of 2021. Trent can be reached at tbabington@wesleyan.edu or on twitter @trentbabington 

  • Alum

    “ They’re a symbol of insensitivity. They telegraph to everyone around you—and I do mean everyone—that you either don’t know or don’t care about what other people are going through.”

    What a terribly insensitive statement by someone trying to call others out on insensitivity. Wearing an expensive jacket does not, by any logical gymnastics, imply that the wearer doesn’t care about other people. First of all, you don’t get to define what “expensive” is for someone else. A $500 jacket may be expensive for one person, but a $200 REI jacket might be expensive for someone else, and could be $2,000 for yet a third person. Who gets to define expensive? You don’t – not for someone else, anyway. It’s the same reason some people purchase “luxury” cars. Sure, a Honda is a great purchase (I have one), but some people can afford a BMW so, guess what, they buy one! Your argument is a slippery slope because, as I point out, someone who can’t afford a new car and is purchasing a $2,500 used car would likely call the purchase of a brand new Honda excessive. But is a commuter economy car really all that excessive? Let each person define that for themselves, and don’t judge others. Someone else’s jacket or car choice does not affect your life, unless you let it. Same with who you choose to love, or decide to do with an unborn fetus.
    Second point: how the hell does someone’s clothing choice imply whether they care about other people and what they’re going through??? If I purchase a Canada Goose jacket, I’m insensitive? If I can afford a $500 jacket (I can’t), I’m probably NOT purchasing it as a wealth symbol, and simply purchasing a jacket that will keep me warm and last for years. And I probably have enough money left over to donate to charity and good causes. Yes I’m aware expensive products convey status. It happens with all consumable products, from cell phones to cars to pens. It’s a part of life. Too bad. You choose to react a certain way to a jacket, but don’t assume for one second that someone is a bad person or doesn’t care about others simply because of their clothing choice.

    • Student

      1. Canada Goose jackets are marketed and sold as luxury items and symbols of wealth. It’s like Gucci. You wear it because you want people to see that you can afford it. It’s a flex.
      2. People don’t drop hundreds on Canada Goose because they want to stay warm. You can do that with a $30 coat from Target. They do it, again, because it’s a symbol of wealth. True, Canada Goose is built for extreme cold, but if you’re not going on a polar expedition, you probably don’t need one.
      3. Are we really comparing the right to wear a coat to someone’s bodily autonomy and right to marry who they love? These are not the same thing.
      4. If you choose to wear a status symbol on a campus where most of the people are wealthy and poor students struggle on a daily basis with trying to exist in that culture, if you take your wealth and rub it in people’s faces, people will get pissed and they will call you out on it. Period.

  • James Crawford

    Naval gazing in a near horizon sphere – perhaps one about the size of the pointy tip of an ivory tower.

  • student

    okay I can understand asking people to stop buying canada goose, but to stop wearing them? should people who have a canada goose jacket just get rid of it and buy a different one? that’s super wasteful and I’d argue even less ethical than wearing clothes that you already own

    also interesting that you’re invoking an organization like PETA while talking about what is and isn’t ethical, but that’s a side issue…

  • Ralphiec88

    All right kids, here’s a tip from a former non-rich kid at a NESCAC school: get over it. Seriously, you can find insensitive and obnoxious people at every level from the very rich to the very poor. Likewise if you own a Canada Goose coat, don’t even try to say you only bought it ’cause it’s really warm. But back to the non-rich kids. Seriously, lift your head up. Don’t waste 4 years as one of the wannabes hanging around the edge of the wealthy clique, you and they know you’re not really one of them. And don’t be one of the people complaining about them either. Yeah some have lived a life so sheltered and rarefied they don’t even understand how clueless they are, but some will be truly good people. So drag yourself down to that crappy job in the dining hall. Appreciate that no matter how poor you are, there are a lot of people poorer still. Know that whatever you have, when you succeed, nobody gave you that, you earned it. That’s something they’ll never own.

  • doc2513

    What’s funny is that the same arguments could be made to criticize choosing to go to Wesleyan. Do you really need a college that costs $75,000 per year? How do you think that makes the local state college kids feel?

    It’s been said, and it’s true, that envy is the only sin that isn’t even fun while you are doing it.