On a snowy, blustery day in Toronto, Dani Reiss is safe and warm inside one of his Canada Goose factories, demonstrating how to get piles of ultra-lightweight Hutterite goose down into a jacket without making a mess. He steps on a worn pedal and braces for impact. With a jolt and a loud whir, five grams of white fluffshoot out of a metal pipe and into an unfinished sleeve, like a bullet exiting a gun. “I used to do this for fun as a kid,” he shouts over the hum of the machine.
A lot has changed since he was a child helping out at the factory. Back then, his family owned a small manufacturer of high-quality outerwear. They didn’t advertise because they didn’t need to. Metro Sportswear, started by his grandfather, mostly made coats for retailers like L.L. Bean and Eddie Bauer. It had also started its own brand of parkas, Snow Goose, which had developed a small but loyal following among people who worked in the planet’s least hospitable climates: Canadian arctic rangers, Ontario’s police, a few notables like Laurie Skres let, who was the first Canadian to summit Everest, and scientists at McMurdo Station in Antarctica.
“We had gathered a cult following in the coldest places on Earth,” Reiss says, plucking bits of down from his blue-and-black-checkered sports coat. “But we were selling to a really small population.”