What's good for Canada Goose is good for the Far North
Ever wonder what happens to all the leftover material discarded by Canada Goose after more than 400 parkas are made each week?
All the zippers, fabric, Velcro and other bits get shipped to Canada Goose resource centres in the Far North, where community members can use the material to create their own traditional outerwear. There are centres in Iqaluit, Pond Inlet and Rankin Inlet and next week another opens in Kuujjuaq, a village in Nunavik.
The idea was the brainchild of Kevin Spreekmeester, Canada Goose's senior vice-president of marketing. First Air, an Arctic airline based out of Ottawa and Winnipeg, kicks in the freight costs.
Spreekmeester came up with the idea during a trip to Pond Inlet, where he was researching a 50th anniversary coffee table book for Dani Reiss, Canada Goose's CEO and president. While there, a friend inquired if anyone from Canada Goose had ever thought of asking the Inuit about how they design and make their traditional parkas.
"They've been doing the same coat for thousands of years. I thought it was a great idea," Spreekmeester said.
Canada Goose and Spreekmeester brought some Inuit sewers to their Toronto offices for a few days. "We essentially ended up working on an existing pattern ... and we made these jackets. While we were here, they walked around the factory, picking up scraps, and they asked if they could take some home," he said.
The sewers said they didn't have access to much in the north, and what was available was prohibitively expensive.
"After they left, Dani and I talked about sustainability. We talked about the extra fabric and we thought, why don't we ship it up north to the sewers, whose job it is to outfit their families and friends?"
Each of the four virtual centres are opened about once a month at designated drop-off buildings. Canada Goose would like to expand to more communities.
"When we can get product up there, we open once a month and we hand out fabrics, Velcro, buttons, whatever we have. It went over so well, there were line-ups around the buildings," he said.
The first centre opened three years ago.
"As long as we are made in Canada and can continue to grow our manufacturing base here, we can grow the amount of surplus material we have. We are really proud of it. As the brand gets bigger, you need these touch points to remind you of the heart and soul of the brand and the reasons why you do these things," he said.
Tanya Talaga is the Star's global economics reporter. Follow her on Twitter @tanyatalaga