- Barbara Russ |
Canadian outerwear brand Moose Knuckles is known for its warm parkas and down coats. Since 1921, the family behind the brand has been responsible for protecting Canadians from their cold winters; since 2009, they have been doing so under the brand name Moose Knuckles. FashionUnited spoke with Marco D´Avanzo, GM and VP of Global Sales for Moose Knuckles, about the brand's heritage, challenges and expansion plans.
Please tell us a bit about the heritage of the Moose Knuckles brand and where it comes from.
Moose Knuckles was founded ten years ago in Montreal, Canada. Our roots lie deep in the cold Canadian winters, hence our know-how in the development and production of outerwear. The culturally open environment and young international culture that characterize Canadian society and our culture do the rest to make Moose Knuckles a very cosmopolitan brand.
And what made you personally take an interest in the brand?
I was already working in the same market where the competitive landscape was fairly consolidated and there was a lack of innovation in terms of brand messaging. Innovation is difficult for an industry like premium outerwear, and most players have focused on either preserving their heritage or improving product technology. As early as 2016, I realized that there was a gap to fill, with an innovative message to consumers, their expectations, emotions and lifestyle. You can find our answer in how the brand is built and how it has been tailor made for the audiences and communities that it interacts with.
What did you change when you started working for the brand?
I don't want to talk so much about my contribution to this brand. First of all, it was my responsibility to develop the European subsidiary and the European market for the brand, while later I concentrated on expansion in Asia and was appointed to a global role. How this worked is a combination of storytelling, correct market positioning and an innovative (re-)sales approach - to always see the key players as partners and the best ambassadors of the brand and its values.
We promote inclusivity at all levels.
The market is always on the lookout for new brands and products, but what was unique for them was the new fresh message and disruptive marketing that is urgently needed in the evolving market.
How do you position the brand in comparison to your direct competitors?
Our core business is of course outerwear, but we don't approach it from an outdoor/performance perspective. We see ourselves as a fashion brand. However, we do not make any compromises in terms of quality of our product - from every single component to our supply chain, everything is at the highest level that the market currently offers.
The same is true for performance: Our parkas have been tested by the Institute for Environmental Research (IER) at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas, and received the highest rating. [Editor’s note: The test includes products from competitors like Canada Goose, Mackage and Woolrich, as reported by online magazine Retail Insider.]
Your brand uses animal products like down and fur. How do you deal with this sensitive issue and what do you do to limit cruelty to animals?
We are obviously as sensitive about this as our consumers. Our supply chains are constantly monitored and we only work with suppliers who can guarantee the highest standards of ethical compliance, for example all our fur strips are SAGA certified. Our down supply chain is RDS certified and the fabrics are Bluesign certified, which guarantees the best environmental performance.
On the other hand, we are also changing our selection to offer consumers with a different sensitivity to fur an alternative - our product mix for outerwear for 2019 is already 40 percent no fur.
What are the biggest markets for Moose Knuckles products?
Canada is our home market and we are one of the market leaders there. Korea, China, Great Britain and Italy are also very important markets for us. The reality of the brand's global presence is actually very unique - so far, our business for 2019 has been divided equally between the three regions America, EMEA and Asia.
Any expansion plans for new markets? If yes, what is the rollout strategy?
The brand is already present in all major markets worldwide. In many of them, we have only just begun our journey, and there is much to do to create brand awareness among consumers and expand our local presence in each of these markets. We see enormous potential for the growth of the brand in the USA, UK, DACH and ASIA.
In your opinion, what is the biggest difference between European/German and North American customers?
This is becoming increasingly difficult to say, especially for the younger generations. They travel the world and are connected worldwide and well informed through social media. It will soon be easier to talk about communities and cultures than about nationalities to identify consumers. One aspect is perhaps that European consumers have a greater interest in fashion and looks, while in North America, they are more pragmatic.
And what else are you working on?
Phew, the better question would be: What are we not working on? First, we will restructure our marketing team to ensure that our overall brand message is spread consistently across the world and through local channels. The aim is to support a new business model for the brand, which includes the global launch of capsule collections associated with seasonal themes and in-store experiences.
At the business level, we are working on establishing our first Asian subsidiary, which will initially manage our business plan in China. And on the retail side, we successfully tested new strategies in Toronto (Yorkdale Mall) last year, which we will implement strategically.
This article was originally published on FashionUnited DE; edited and translated by Simone Preuss.
Photos: Marco D’Avanzo, Moose Knuckles Preview SS 20 and showroom in Milan