Canada Goose will begin selling footwear in November.
The company has been quietly planning the launch over the last three years, chief executive Dani Reiss told BoF. Canada Goose acquired Baffin, a Canadian footwear company in 2018, “leveraging their knowledge” of the footwear space, according to Reiss, before recently hiring executives who previously worked at Sperry and Nike and Columbia Sportswear.
Canada Goose’s Snow Mantra Boot, a $1,300 insulated winter boot, was manufactured in Romania and can protect consumers in weather conditions as low as -30C, according to the brand. The Journey Boot, which is made in Italy, is a $750 flexible hiking boot made of leather that includes a removable foam insole.
Canada Goose is expanding into a new category at a crucial time for its business. The brand expects to pass $1 billion in revenue for the first time this year, largely on the popularity of its puffer winter coats. During the pandemic, online sales and demand from China have surged. Over the years, it has launched other categories like hoodies, hats and fleece. It also launched knitwear in 2017, which now brings in over $45 million annually, but coats are still overwhelmingly the biggest part of its business.
But the luxury outerwear market has also become more crowded since Canada Goose products became fashionable nearly a decade ago. Moncler, Canada Goose’s main competitor, reported sales this past spring recovered to pre-pandemic heights. There are also several smaller luxury outerwear brands like Mackage, Moose Knuckles, Woolrich and Herno, not to mention The North Face, Patagonia and Arc’teryx. Luxury brands Gucci and Balenciaga sell high-end puffer jackets, too.
As Canada Goose’s winter jackets have become a luxury staple across the globe, analysts also say the brand now needs to enter new markets rather than depend on a hero product.
“What happens if tomorrow, your best-seller isn’t a best-seller?” said Audrey Depraeter-Montacel, the managing director of fashion and luxury at the consulting firm Accenture. “In the luxury space, brands need to think about their next bet.”
Expansion into new categories is also critical in keeping the luxury customer, added Jessica Ramirez, a retail analyst with Jane Hali & Associates.
“You can only replace a jacket every so often,” Ramirez said. “They want to keep customers coming back to the store.”
New Distribution Strategy
Canada Goose’s footwear will play into the company’s pivot away from wholesale, with shoes made available to only a handful of third-party retailers in addition to its own stores and website, including Ssense and The Webster.
Overall sales through the brand’s own stores and website account for nearly 70 percent of its business, compared with about 40 percent in 2018. Many brands, particularly in the luxury space, are ending wholesale partnerships so they can better control how their products are marketed and priced.
For Canada Goose, the shift has been more disruptive than at brands like Gucci or Prada. Shares plunged more than 10 percent in August as investors worried the move would hurt sales.
Reiss said when it comes to footwear, Canada Goose looked for third-party retailers that were seen as “trendsetters.”
“[The boots are] going to be hard to get,” he said. “I like to start small and … and create buzz around it.”
Making the Sale
Canada Goose will have to convince shoppers to shell out for such expensive winter boots. Sorel’s boots sell for under $200 while Stuart Weitzman’s winter boots hover around $600.
Ramirez said Canada Goose has proven “customers won’t flinch on price point for functional luxury,” but she noted that boots are a different purchase than coats because they experience more wear and tear.
“There are brands out there that people know for outdoor footwear and they have spent decades building trust,” Ramirez said.
Reiss said Canada Goose will centre the marketing of its footwear around craftsmanship.
“We’ve worked hard to bring something new and differentiated to the market and we think it’s going to set us apart,” he said.