Long before Canada Goose became the practical coat of choice for celebrities on oft-photographed errand runs, the Canadian outerwear company's luxury parkas and puffers were populating movie sets, behind the scenes, for over 25 years. And even before that, the 59-year-old heritage brand's hi-tech coats have been outfitting people operating in the coldest of places for decades, including researchers and explorers in Antarctica and intrepid climbers on Mount Everest. So why not the actors, directors and crews freezing their butts off in-between takes on some of the most frigid of movie locations, including, yes, Canada.
The brand is actually known as "the (un)official jacket of film crews everywhere it's cold," so it makes sense that the company now sponsors of two of the biggest film festivals in the world: Sundance, since 2012, and the Toronto International Film Festival for the fifth year and running.
"The same way [filmmakers] get grips, lighting and all of the elements [to make a movie], they started to look at Canada Goose as one of those elements in that prep stage before they went on location," Chief Marketing Officer Jackie Poriadjian-Asch tells Fashionista at the company's Toronto global headquarters, which also houses one of its factories. (The entire line is made in Canada.) Hollywood's affinity for Canada Goose outerwear steadily built as filmmakers trying to stay warm on-set began recommending the coats to their peers, thus leading to the brand's ubiquity both on- and off-camera.
Bond fans may have spotted Q (Ben Whishaw) wearing a Como Parka, while Poriadjian-Asch was recently pleasantly surprised to see Julianne Moore's and Ethan Hawke's characters wearing Canada Goose coats while snowshoeing in "Maggie's Plan." Oscar-winner (and Canadian) Paul Haggis has been a long-time fan of the brand's warming coats as he's directing his A-list crews on-site. The relationship came full circle when he directed "Out There," a short film for Canada Goose's first global ad campaign last year.
And then there's the origin story of the $950 full-length Mystique puffy parka, which dates back to the filming of 2003's "X-Men" followup, "X2." Again, it's really cold in Canada, especially when one's mutant costume is just comprised of a layer of blue body-paint, in the case of Rebecca Romijn as Mystique. So, Canada Goose custom-created an ankle length puffer to save Romijn from hypothermia during filming, hence the now-best-selling coat's name. (The company also provided the same comprehensive warming piece to Jennifer Lawrence when she took on the role for the prequel "X-Men: First Class" in 2011.)
"We continue to iterate off of it because it has a unique purpose," Poriadjian-Asch says. "It makes sense both in that setting and in regular urban settings." (Same goes for the TV industry. I took a mini-excursion to visit costume designer Meredith Markworth-Pollack on the Toronto set of "Reign" and spotted a Canada Goose jacket hanging among all the custom-made 16th century gowns in the wardrobe trailer.)
It seems that the stars feel the same way, too, as the actors are allowed to walk off set with their Mystiques or Chilliwacks — unlike with their costumes, which the studios own. Case in point: after wearing a $900 Kensington Parka while filming "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," Emma Stone put the the gray, coyote fur-trimmed coat on rotation for walks through the chilly streets of New York City.
As for how the outerwear ends up on the crew and stars, both on- and off-screen, "it depends on the relationship," says Poriadjian-Asch. Stylists or production staffers sometimes make a request; or, in some cases, for a large-scale crew on a big-budget movie, a bulk coat purchase would be arranged, per a company public relations representative. For celeb street style moments, Poriadjian-Asch says that the company is "not seeding it out there, saying, 'hey, please put it on.'" (Although, after the surprise PETA protest at her book launch in August, Amy Schumer said, "I got sent a Canada Goose jacket.")
As for the on-screen Canada Goose sightings, the CMO emphasizes those are "not product placements," too. "We're not calling them up and saying, 'can you find a way to write Canada Goose into your storyline?'" she adds. "But if there's a natural fit, it's a great opportunity and we'd love to be a part of it."
Speaking of, Canada Goose's hi-tech utilitarian outerwear designs have become a natural fit for the sporty, function-meets-fashion movement happening on the runways. Demna Gvasalia even reached out to Canada Goose (along with 17 classic brands, like Juicy Couture and Church's) for the Vetements spring 2017 show in Paris.
"Who would have ever thought Canada Goose [would be] walking down the runway at couture, right?" says Poriadjian-Asch. The brand just hit the NYFW runway too, as the sole collaboration during Opening Ceremony's politically charged spring 2017 show. While partnering with two of the most forward-thinking fashion houses is just a cool thing to do; ironically, it's also part of the brand's overall strategy to stick with its roots and not risk falling into that too-trendy (then basic) cycle that some classic sportswear brands often do.
"We are steeped in heritage and tradition, but we're also just like filmmakers or any other industry — always looking to iterate and modernize, while always having that true north positioning," she explains. The collabs are ways for the company to "stretch a bit" with edgier, experimental interpretations of the traditional styles for a new audience, while still emphasizing their core lines for their loyal customers.
Gvasalia reimagined the classic Snow Mantra Parka with signature exaggerated Vetements details, and gave the Macmillan puffer street style-ready, contrast-camo printing. The Opening Ceremony collab allowed Canada Goose to let loose a little bit. "[The parka is] fun spirited. Very colorful. A paisley print, which is not something that you see from Canada Goose, ever," said Poriadjian-Asch.
Although, collaborations aren't a new business for Canada Goose. The company has partnered with Levi's, Pendleton and, for spring 2016, hometown hero Drake's fashion line, October's Very Own (OVO) multiple times. But the company isn't worried becoming too trendy, especially with its two most recent high-fashion partnerships.
"We’re still steeped in function and utility," Poriadjian-Asch says. "The exciting thing about what's happening in this moment is that function and utility is playing a bigger role in everything people want. So it's almost the idea that function never goes out of style and we've always been true to that. We are having a bigger moment, but when things move onto the next trend, we're going to be just as relevant."
Disclosure: Canada Goose paid for my travel and accommodations to attend and cover the Toronto International Film Festival.