Complain as we might, Canadians have never been better equipped to deal with the cold, from Sorel boots that can handle temperatures of -40° C to winter footwear from Pajar with cleats built into the sole for a better grip. Footwear is now a science: WinterLab in Toronto recreates harsh winter conditions—from icy surfaces to 30 km/h winds—to test different treads.
Even winter apparel is having its fashion moment. Total outerwear sales across Canada jumped by 11 per cent to $3.2 billion in the 12 months leading up to September 2015, according to market research firm NPD Group. The previous 12-month cycle had growth of five per cent. canada goose jacket“It’s cool to have technical hardware on your fashion outerwear for everyday use,” says NPD’s fashion industry analyst Sandy Silva. “You’ll never use the true utility the purchase was intended for an everyday occasion.” Ravean, a Utah-based startup, just launched a line of fashionable battery-heated jackets with gloves that can be heated, too, by plugging them into the coat.
But the company that comes top of mind each winter is Canada Goose, whose parkas are advertised as being “field tested in the coldest places on Earth.” Its domestic sales increased in 2015 by more than 25 per cent over 2014, according to figures shared by the private company, with British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec its biggest growth markets. The jackets are so in style that Sports Illustrated featured supermodel Kate Upton on the cover of its swimsuit issue wearing only a Canada Goose parka and bikini bottoms.canada goose solaris parkaThe coyote-fur-trimmed hoods have, on their own, almost made wearing fur acceptable again. From an annual revenue of $5 million in 2001, the company forecasts global revenues will top $300 million this year—which might explain the opening of a second factory in Winnipeg.
Back in Tromsø, there’s always something to look forward to in winter. When the local Christmas markets shut down, the town prepares to host an international film festival in January. “It’s the coldest, darkest part of the year and yet they’re inviting people from all over the world to come to their film festival,” Leibowitz says.
As for her research, Leibowitz helped develop a wintertime mindset scale that surveyed people’s agreement or disagreement with statements like: “There are many things to enjoy about the winter,” or, “In the winter, I feel like doing nothing.” “We found that having a positive wintertime mindset was correlated with life satisfaction, personal growth and positive emotions,” she says. “All seasons have positive and negative aspects, but we tend to focus on the positive things about summer and the negative things about winter.”
She isn’t suggesting that those with clinically diagnosed seasonal depression can simply snap out of it by changing their mindsets. But for many cold-weather haters, reframing the idea of winter can be beneficial. She’s seen it first-hand, like when she hunkered inside at 10 p.m.canada goose langford parkaduring Tromsø’s worst snowstorm of the year. “I looked outside and saw someone on my street,” she laughs, “just going for a jog.”