Canada Goose battles knock-offs as brand makes a splash in Chinese market

For some brands coming to China for the first time, the biggest challenge is to get noticed in the world’s most populous nation.

Canada’s best-known luxury clothing brand has, in some ways, the opposite problem. The distinctive fur-trimmed designs of Canada Goose parkas are already broadly recognized, in a country where knockoffs of its products are sold in countless small clothing stalls and easily found online.

Now it has to persuade people to pay for the real thing.

“We definitely have a lot of brand recognition here, which is great. Very happy to have found that out,” Canada Goose chief executive Dani Reiss said in an interview Friday in Beijing, as the company formally launched its presence in the world’s second-largest economy.

 

“What’s important is that we go a level or two deeper, so that people really understand the story of Canada Goose, and we build an affinity for the product − and people don’t just want it because it’s cool.”

That, he said, is why after years of selling only through luxury department stores in China, Canada Goose has now established a business unit in the country to oversee an expansion here that began in earnest this fall.

In September, Canada Goose unveiled an online store on Alibaba Group-owned Tmall. In late November,it opened a popup shop in a swish Beijing hotel, ahead of an inauguration, sometime later this year, of a permanent store a few steps away, where its neighbours will be Versace, Roberto Cavalli, Moncler and Balmain.

The products the company will sell there, with $285 tuques and parkas priced nearly seven times higher, represent the company’s effort to capitalize on what Mr. Reiss calls an opportunity that “is absolutely massive.” He calls Canada Goose the “Land Rover of clothing,” a comparison that suggests a profitable future in China, a market that generated more than 20 per cent of revenues last year for Jaguar Land Rover Automotive PLC.

Mr. Reiss would offer no projections, saying only that he expects profits in China to be comparable with elsewhere − despite the company’s PBI Expedition Parka selling for the yuan equivalent of $1,902, compared with $1,145 in Canada.

“One of the things we do is export the Canadian brand around the world in a way that no other Canadian brand does,” Mr. Reiss said.