Winter, at least in Gambier, signals its presence each year with a sudden drop in temperature, the disappearance of the sun and the emergence of a flock of Canada Goose jackets. The jackets, which migrate onto Middle Path from the depths of students’ closets and storage units, serve a purpose other than warming their owners. Canada Goose jackets, more than anything else, are status symbols.
The jackets, which cost a minimum of $850 for the traditional version with a fur hood, are not a necessity in Gambier, where students trek from heated building to heated building, rarely walking more than a half-mile at once, and certainly never experiencing the 13 degrees below zero weather for which the jackets are intended.
The “Goose People” (Canada Goose’s term for its spokespeople and brand ambassadors) lauded on the company’s website include polar explorers, extreme adventure athletes and champion dog sledders. Somehow, college students failed to make the lineup. That’s because Kenyon students don’t purchase Canada Goose jackets to aid in their Arctic adventures journeying from Caples to Peirce—they sport these jackets to flaunt their supposed superiority over their peers.
In my experience, the students who shamelessly wear Canada Goose jackets pair them with thrifted sweaters and mom jeans. These students exhibit their willingness to drop nearly $1,000 on a jacket, while simultaneously showing off their ‘quirky’ and ‘authentic’ style with thrifted items. As Lucy White ’22 discussed in an op-ed in the Sept. 5, 2019 issue of the Collegian titled “Goodwill but not good intentions: its time for us to choose engagement over apathy,” such students are demonstrating their wealth in their portrayal of poverty as an aesthetic.
Canada Goose jackets’ representation of status and wealth are not unique to Kenyon: one high school in England banned the coats in an attempt to “reduce children’s anxiety from failing to fit in with their wealthier peers.” While there is nothing wrong with trying to keep warm during the colder months on campus, there is simply no need for a jacket designed for expeditions to the Arctic Circle in Ohio.
Canada Goose jackets are also symbols of triumph over other species. The coyote fur used as trim on the hood of the jackets is a trophy of human power and destruction, much like a moose’s head mounted on a wall or a hunter posing with his most recent kill.
Despite the company’s claims that the coyotes are ethically trapped and slaughtered, the company fails to publicize that the trappers they support use steel leg hold traps, which have been banned in many other countries due to the physical pain and emotional distress they induce.
The fur on Canada Goose jackets has no functional purpose that synthetic fabric is unable to fulfill. While the company claims that the fur trim “stands up to harsh winds” such as those of the Arctic, in Gambier, the fur trim merely serves as decoration. In addition, geese are often plucked while still alive for the down used to stuff these jackets.
Every dollar you spend is a vote for what you are purchasing. In the case of Canada Goose jackets, you are voting one thousand times for a superfluous symbol of social status and for the torture of the coyotes and geese. I hope, that like the Juicy Couture Tracksuits that permeated our childhoods, Canada Goose jackets will soon transform from a must-have to an embarrassment.