True North: the Canadian parka guide

If you want to stay warm in winter, you might be eyeing a canadian-made coat. But just what is it stuffed with? There may be a hidden downside.


MOOSE KNUCKLES/NOBIS

Locavore style mavens are all over these two makers of cold-weather streetwear. Like Canada Goose, both make super-warm, sweatshop-free and durably constructed parkas in Canada, but they offer more fashion-forward cuts than Canada Goose (and can cost you more, too). The big problem is neither brand has public policies against using down from live-plucked or force-fed birds. And their fur policies are slim, too. Nobis uses wild-trapped coyote, Moose Knuckles farmed fox fur from Finland, but at least T.O.’s Nobis has a few fur-free options, unlike Montreal’s Moose Knuckles. The silver lining: Nobis’s Sympatex membrane is free of PFCs (that globally polluting family of water repellants used on most outerwear). nobis.ca, mooseknuckles-canada.com.

SCORE: NN


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CANADA GOOSE

Used to be you’d only spot these on film crews out on long, cold shoots. Now this $200 million Canadian company has blown up internationally – and so has the backlash against its fur sourcing policies. Last year, Animal Justice filed a complaint with the Competition Bureau arguing that Canada Goose is misleading consumers with claims its coyote fur is caught humanely when, AJ says, animals can legally be ensnared in traps for up to five days in this country. On the plus side, you can skip the coyote-trimmed models, and the company says it never gets down from live-plucked or force-fed birds, but the parkas may be coated with environmentally contentious Teflon. To minimize impact, buy used. canada-goose.com.

SCORE: NN


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HARRICANA

Montreal designer Mariouche Gagné has figured out a clever way to trim her winter parkas without killing anything – well, other than chopping up old fur coats. I’m not big on sporting second-hand fur, and veg-heads will argue you’re still supporting the fur aesthetic, but technically speaking you’re upcycling. Plus they use a synthetic polyester insulator warm enough for Montreal winters. It’s just too bad the other materials aren’t recycled, too. Harricana uses Teflon-coated virgin polyester. harricana.qc.ca.

SCORE: NNN


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MAMMOTH

Toronto Argos linebacker James Yurichuk was fed up with all the animal fur crowding Canada’s streets and decided to shake up the scene with Mammoth Outwear, “a completely vegan and ethical alternative to Canada Goose.” These are stuffed with synthetic PrimaLoft Gold, considered a top-of-the-line insulator that’s Blue Sign-approved for eco-friendly production. At this point, there’s no recycled content, but Mammoth plans to switch over to PrimaLoft Eco Gold (that one’s 55 per cent recycled) at a later date, and is also looking into making the water-repellent finish PFC-free. 

Ten bucks goes to the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals.Pre-order at

mammothouterwear.com 

SCORE: NNNN


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KIJIJI/USED

No, this isn’t a brand, but it’s my way of encouraging you to look at your second-hand options first. Churning out billions of new clothing articles a year taxes the planet’s resources, waterways, animals and landfills. Buying used helps take the load off and generally keeps things local. Besides, you can score better deals on sites like Kijiji, where you’ll spot some of these Canadian brands and used imports like Patagonia or Aritizia’s Community line of hemp/recycled poly parkas. Mec.ca also has a good online gear swap to help you bundle up without bungling your choice.

SCORE: NNNNN

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