The Kanuk parka company has introduced a service that's been a long time coming: enabling customers to test its wares in the very conditions they were meant to face, instead of wearing them at room temperature.
The room, at the back of the clothing firm's new digs on Rachel Street East in Montreal, is perfect for assessing how a Kanuk winter jacket can prevent its purchasers from freezing. The facility is set at -13 Fahrenheit, mild by Canadian standards, but turn on the ventilation and folks can really test the parka's resilience when a windchill factor is thrown into the mix.
That's one of several changes Kanuk's new owners have made ever since the company, first opening its doors in 1974, changed hands in 2017. Richard Laniel, the company's president and CEO, has no plans to rebrand the company or its image. Instead, he wants to push Kanuk to the next level by really showing what these parkas can do in what he believes is a whole new consumer experience. It's something he calls "shoppertainment," which he hopes will detract part of the market from its latest habit of online ordering.
“In today’s multi-channel world, there is such a thing as showrooming. Customers need a reason to go to a store,” said Laniel, citing the cold room as an example. “The only reason you go to a store today is because it’s exciting, it’s memorable."
Laniel doesn't have any plans to alter the merchandise either, the snowy owl insignia that has identified the company for more than 40 years is still sewn into the back collar inseam. But the store, with 12,000 square feet of display space and 35,000 square feet for the factory, is what Laniel hopes will draw folks to shop in person.
Then there are the parkas, including 16 variations that comprise the fall/winter 2018 campaign already underway. Retail prices range from roughly US$530 to as high as US$770 and more if customers want additional fur alterations. By most accounts, especially in Quebec, where seeing people in Kanuk attire is quite common, the coats are well put together using quality materials able to keep its wearers comfortable while braving the elements.
Where Kanuk has made strides is in encouraging a younger market to take advantage of Kanuk's urban wear. But as someone who reportedly is an outdoorsman himself and versed in what type of clothing is needed in hardy Canadian winters, Laniel says he refuses to cut corners as far as his merchandise is concerned.
“I will go where the consumer takes us,” he said. “But I will not compromise any of the foundations that have made Kanuk what it is today for the simple purpose of growth.”