Founded over 60 years ago, Canada Goose has a reputation for coats that keeps you warm in the most extreme climates, like the summit of Mount Everest. Few of its customers will be climbing that legendary peak any time soon, of course. More likely they crave the luxury labelling that the brand has cultivated, with Hollywood fans including the likes of actresses Emma Stone and Blake Lively.
There were queues around the block when the company opened its first flagship store in Beijing’s Sanlitun shopping district in late December. “Wearing a high-end down jacket like Canada Goose gives the wearer a sense of superiority. That is probably the only reason a brand that makes a puffer jacket that costs over Rmb8,000 ($1,250) would become the biggest street wear darling,” National Business Daily mused.
However, it didn’t take long before Canada Goose was having to contend with a PR disaster: a difficulty in determining whether a jacket sold under its brand was genuine or not.
Back in December, a consumer, surnamed Xian bought a Canada Goose parka from Kaola, the e-commerce platform of internet giant NetEase (Kaola specialises in cross-border imports with most of its inventory purchased from overseas, bypassing intermediaries and local distributors). Xian paid Rmb5,567.
It was a hefty sum but the same item – called Lorette – was going for Rmb8,600 on Canada Goose’s official storefront on Tmall.
That made Xian suspicious, a feeling that increased when the jacket arrived without proper wrapping and with loose threads around the sleeves and shoulders. She decided to contact the Canada Goose head office in Toronto, sending photos of the parka in an e-mail. Within days it had confirmed that the parka was a knock-off but Kaola refuted the accusation, claiming that it had sent the same pictures to Canada Goose and been told that the jacket was genuine. The conflicting responses prompted Xian to email again and the company confirmed again that the jacket was fake. It also suggested that the clothing be sent to its repair centre in Guangdong for final confirmation. But once the jacket had arrived, staff there said they were still unable to verify it, reports Phoenix News.
The debacle has led to criticism from local customers. “Canada Goose’s performance has been really disappointing. It’s not just that its identification yields a different result every time, but the indifferent attitude in its customer service is very disheartening,” chastised TMT Post.
The case has also brought attention to copycats trying to pass off their goods as the real thing and the company filed a trademark infringement lawsuit in Chicago this week, citing “an interrelated group of counterfeiters” that is marketing fake Canada Goose products on hundreds of websites.
As the case drags on – the jacket has been sent to head office in Canada and Kaola has promised to refund Xian depending on the final verdict – some consumers are questioning whether it is worth the risk of spending so much on the jackets in question, given the risk of disputes. In the meantime, the Canadian firm says consumers should watch out for websites selling counterfeit versions of its clothing. “Without real down and fur, the chance of frostbite or freezing becomes a real possibility,” the company’s website has warned.
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