Protests outside Brooklyn Clothing Co. ongoing for nearly three months
By Aidan Mouellic, Staff Writer
There is perhaps no clothing material more prone to controversy than fur, and a Vancouver retailer is feeling the effects of protesters wanting the use of fur in fashion eliminated.
The Vancouver Animal Defence League (VADL) has made Brooklyn Clothing Co., an upscale boutique located in Vancouver’s Yaletown district, a focal point in their ongoing battle against the retailer’s stocking fur-trimmed clothing. The VADL is specifically targeting the sales of Canada Goose, which uses coyote fur on its coat hoods.
The protests at the small Yaletown shop began approximately three months ago after the VADL had encountered success at influencing other local retailers to stop selling products linked to animal aubse. Both Grouse Mountain and Hills of Kerrisdale were targeted by the VADL and decided to pull the items from their shelves after mounting pressure from the group.
The Canada Goose jackets in question are manufactured in Canadian facilities in both Toronto and Winnipeg and have been dubbed as the warmest jackets in the world, due to the Canadian goose down insulation used. The United States Antarctic Program uses the company’s parkas as part of equipment in the South Pole. The Toronto-based company also sponsors Lance Mackey, the legendary Alaskan dog sled racer. Canada Goose has cultivated a reputation for shielding those in extremely cold climates.
The VADL has a different viewpoint of the Canadian outfitter. In an interview with the Other Press, VADL volunteer Megan Griffin said that “Canada Goose is 100 per cent bullshit. Ninety-nine per cent of people wearing Canada Goose jackets are walking around the streets of Vancouver, Tokyo, or Europe where temperatures rarely go below zero. We’re not talking about arctic explorers here; we’re talking about fashionistas.”
Canada Goose defends their use of the material. The company says that they use coyote fur because “it works to disrupt airflow and create turbulent (warm air), which protects the face from frostbite.”
Canada Goose also claims that by using only certified Canadian fur trappers that are regulated by the government, they are sourcing their fur ethically.
Griffin disagrees and says that “Trapping is not ethical or humane, these snare and leg hold traps torture animals who sometimes have to chew their legs off to free themselves.”
The boutique’s owner, Jason Overbo, has said that he supports the VADL’s right to protest but believes that they are acting as bullies instead of peaceful protesters. In a statement, he says that he has “talked to every business within two blocks of [Brooklyn Clothing Co.] and they’ve all been very sympathetic to our cause. They understand that this is just bullying, pure and simple…”
Overbo goes on to tell of the protesters harassing passersby. He has pledged to donate five dollars to anti-bullying campaigns for every customer who decides to wear an anti-bullying button that he is giving away for free inside his shop.
Griffin disagrees with the bullying claims made by Overbo: “I think it’s laughable,” she says. “His whole promotion of us as being bullies… it’s offensive towards those who have experienced real bullying, like children who get bullied because of their sexuality; that’s legitimate bullying, but we’re protesting him because of his inappropriate and violent behaviour towards wildlife.”
The battle is not just between Canada Goose, the anti-fur Protesters, and the shop anymore: local residents are growing tired of the loud and relentless protests. A petition titled “Urge Vancouver Police to Keep Yaletown Protests Legal” has been set up online, urging Vancouver Police to crack down on the protest which, due to noise concerns, could be illegal if police deem the protesters to be disrupting the peace. Local residents express as much in a letter sent to VancityBuzz. One resident says that “This behaviour is terrorism and has no place in civil society. We are being held hostage to angry, aggressive bullies on a daily basis and we need the city to protect our basic rights as owners and residents of this community.”
The parties involved in this saga appear to be in for a long and arduous war of attrition since all are holding firm in their beliefs and vow to attain their goals, whether that be eliminating fur from shelves or protesters from curbs.