Some people, especially in New York, spend a pretty penny on their clothes for many reasons: durability, fashion, or just to show that they can. Canada Goose jackets are certainly a status symbol more than a fashion statement. There’s nothing revolutionary about a bulky black parka. The only thing that visually distinguishes a Canada Goose jacket is the patch on the right arm with an image of the Arctic Circle—as if the hatless wearer were planning on visiting. But why do you need to advertise that you’re wearing a coat that would nearly cover the cost of one Columbia credit? Canada Goose jackets are an affront to good manners, sound judgment, and all attempts at environmentalism.
According to a recent global climate change report, “no one under the age of 32 has ever experienced a cooler-than-average month on this planet.” Walking around Columbia’s campus, you might not be inclined to believe it. As soon as the temperature starts to dip below 50 degrees, Canada Goose jackets migrate out of closets and high-end department stores to appear on flocks of Columbia undergrads.
Originally designed for Arctic treks and climbs up Mount Everest, the Canada Goose coat, a down-filled, coyote-fur trimmed parka, is this year’s hot item. The best-selling model (and yes, they come in models) promises to keep its wearer warm for temperatures as low as 13 degrees below zero, provided you shell out $995 for the privilege.
As socially and environmentally conscious the city may seem, Canada Goose’s popularity really supports plus ça change that New York remains as class-sensitive as it has always been.
Canada Goose jackets are functionally unnecessary in New York City. The record low temperature in NYC since 2010 was 15 degrees below zero. Sure, it’s cold, but it’s also likely that this record cold was in the middle of the night, when very few people need to go out. Those who can afford to spend a month’s rent on a jacket likely don’t work nights. If you want to be prepared for events like last month’s extreme cold snap, there are plenty of less-expensive options for jackets to keep you toasty on your milk run. The only circumstance in which wearing a Canada Goose jacket is not patently absurd is if you are literally in the Arctic. But even the coldest New York commute is not of arctic conditions.
One of the most, if not the most, egregiously unethical aspects of the jackets is the coyote fur around the hood. Yes, in 2019, one of the trendiest jackets has real fur from a cousin of the dog—not from some squirrely rodent. Canada Goose claims that it uses ethical trapping standards, but amongst a majority of Americans, it's agreed upon that fur is unethical to use, no matter how “ethical” the trapping standards are. Some models of the jacket don’t have the fur-lined hood, but all of them are filled with down (from regular geese, not Canada geese, as the name might suggest). Down comes with its own range of problems. Since Canada Goose jackets contain much more down than is required for most wearers’ environments, they waste an already questionably-obtained material. Synthetic fur and alternative insulators work just as well in terms of look and function.
If you want to wear an expensive jacket, get something with just a certain je ne sais quoi that merely suggests you paid a few factors of ten more for your coat. Those you care about impressing will get it, and the rest of us will remain blissfully ignorant.
The Canada Goose phenomenon is hardly singular to Columbia. A high school has even banned Canada Goose jackets to prevent students from being shamed for not dropping $900 (minimum) on a jacket, because it is neither possible nor necessary.
Maybe we should ban Canada Goose apparel from our lives, so that we don’t shame those unable and unwilling to spend so much, especially on a garment of questionable material. But perhaps we should keep tolerating Canada Goose jackets to make it easier for the rest of us to spot them: those who have poor judgment, poor taste, and who care more for status than ethics. Then, the rest of us will know to stay well away.
Emily Beiser is a junior in GS through the Dual BA Program with Sciences Po. She’s a mediocre Art Hum student and is looking for an internship. If you want to hire her this summer, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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