Why Outerwear Legend Canada Goose Is Taking a Chance on Wool Sweaters

Losing the goose down for merino wool, but keeping those fancy prices

A star of Canada Goose's new campaign, Anna Maria's been crafting sweaters for some six decades.
Canada Goose

Fashioniastas can understand why someone might spend days looking for the right sweater, maybe even traveling a hundred miles to find it. But that search would seem downright modest to Jackie Poriadjian-Asch, whose hunt for the right knitwear spanned countries across the globe and took a total of three years.

Wait—just for a sweater? We should explain. Poriadjian-Asch is the CMO of Canada Goose, the high-end outerwear brand renowned for its thousand-dollar, down-filled parkas. After nearly six decades of being the outfitter for cold-weather cognoscenti, Canada Goose began a careful expansion into spring wear earlier this year (think: light jackets, quilted crewnecks), and is now ready to try its hand at knits. Its inaugural sweater collection makes it debut today.

“Continuing on [our] path of exploration, the next logical step for us was knitwear,” Poriadjian-Asch said. “Consumers have been looking for this from us for a very long time.”

This women's Williston sweater will retail for $450
Canada Goose

As a privately-held apparel brand whose reputation rests on a 13-step production process and hand-stitched assembly—all in factories that really are located in Canada—the Goose isn’t just in the enviable position of not having to rush things, a slow and methodical process is pretty much what consumers pay for. “We had an end goal and a final state in mind, but we were not going to rush something to market that wasn’t going to raise the bar,” she said. “It had to feel like it was truly Canada Goose DNA. We took our time to do it right.”

They took their time, sure enough—some 36 months to search the world for the desired ultra-fine merino wool yarn and the experienced craftspeople to knit with it. The search ultimately led to Argentina (for the yarn) and Italy and Romania (for the knitting.) And while Poriadjian-Asch credits a team led by chief product officer Lee Turlington, it was also her own business savvy that turned what would have been just a scouting trip into a colorful piece of marketing.

To help promote the launch, Canada Goose produced a short film about its sweater quest—shot on location and featuring a few of the craftspeople involved in making the goods. There’s Anna Maria, owner of Italian knitwear company Fuzzi (which, incidentally, was responsible for Jean-Paul Gaultier’s influential knits in the early 1980s) and Lee Turlington, who judges the quality of the fabric with his experienced hands. Employees from historic Italian mill Tollegno 1900 dye the wool in the collection’s signature earth tones.

The film—which will live on the brand’s social media channels—takes a page from Canada Goose’s proven marketing playbook. Older videos on its corporate site explain the craftsmanship of the parkas by following veteran workers like trimming sewer Maria Arruda and cutting-room supervisor Nike Fava onto the factory floor while they talk about the care and precision that goes into their work.

In recent years, many brands (Salvatore Ferragamo, Dunhill and Red Wing, to name a few) have sunk marketing dollars into making videos that explain the hands-on craftsmanship behind their products. But Canada Goose departs from the usual formula by screening its video backwards. Instead of kicking off with raw materials and the assembly line, the video starts with a finished sweater that, with the video running in reverse, slowly devolves back into its component parts. The film not only makes for unusual viewing but, according to Poriadjian-Asch, is actually a more logical presentation. “Part of why you use the video in reverse is, as the story unravels before you, you have to fall in love with the product [first] to care why it’s made,” she said.

And indeed, Canada Goose is betting heavily that consumers will care: Its sweaters are not cheap. Prices for the 15-piece line will start at $295 for a basic mid-weight sweater and go up to HyBridge Knits that top out at $650.

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