Business First Look

Canada Goose IPO surged on first day. But how long does fashion stay trendy on Wall Street?

Despite fierce protests from animal-rights activists over the use of fur and feather fillings in the jackets, Canada Goose has held on to its popularity. 

A PETA protester demonstrates against Canada Goose outside of the New York Stock Exchange in New York on Wednesday. The Canadian apparel company had a successful debut on Wednesday, with its shares surging 25 percent in the afternoon to $16.25.
Lucas Jackson/Reuters
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Despite a trend of warmer weather, the trend of zipping up in costly down-filled, fur-trimmed arctic parkas shows no signs of letting up. 

Capitalizing on its global momentum from the past few years, the company's initial public offering was met with success on Thursday, raising about $256 million in the morning while its shares surged more than 25 percent to $16.25 in the afternoon.

But there are some indications that the apparel company could face a difficult upward climb. The Canada Goose jackets, which cost an average of $900 a piece, have also drawn the ire of animal-rights activists over their use of goose down and coyote fur. Once an "it" garment among the rich and famous, celebrities are increasingly among those who now shun the label over fears of backlash. The Canadian apparel company admits the protests could be a liability to its future development.

"We have been the target of activists in the past, and may continue to be in the future," the company said in its IPO filing with the SEC. "Protestors can disrupt sales at our stores, or use social media or other campaigns to sway public opinion against our products. If any such activists are successful at either of these our sales and results of operations may be adversely affected."

Canada Goose is no stranger to protests. When the company opened its first US flagship store in New York City last November, protests erupted outside of the store. The celebrations inside the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday were also accompanied by chants and boycotts from protesters organized by groups such as the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which is also a shareholder of the newly public company. The activists also turned to pedestrians who were wearing the pricey coats, reminding them of the production process.

"PETA will be snapping up shares and bringing the fight for animals straight to the boardroom," a spokesperson told Forbes on Thursday. 

The Toronto-based company also faces another hurdle with potential criticism from celebrities, who have been crucial in helping the brand that once manufactured functional outwear make the transition to a luxury retailer. The company has used celebrities’ endorsements as part of its marketing strategy, such as by sponsoring film festivals, and its products have appeared on magazine cover models and in films, as The Christian Science Monitor reported in 2015.

But now, a group of celebrities, such as actors Maggie Q, Justin Long, and Daniel Newman, have been vocal about turning away from its products because of concerns over animal welfare. 

The protests haven’t hurt sales, Canada Goose’s chief executive officer Dani Reiss said in an interview with Bloomberg. But he said the company does recognize that "whether to wear fur or not is a personal choice."

The maker of luxury winter down jackets is the latest among a wave of fashion brands that have brought their brands to Wall Street. In 2011, Michael Kors launched “one of the largest and most successful IPOs in the history of fashion,” with a few others either following suit or at least discussing the possibility of an IPO, according to the Business of Fashion. Canada Goose reported $291 million in revenue for 2016.

While the popularity of fashion brands can hold great appeal to investors, experts warn about the high risks in the public market, if Canada Goose, for instance, were to suddenly go out of style.

“The problem with these trendy brands and high-growth stories is that the markets love you when you’re hot,” John Berg, the chief executive of the investment bank Financo, told the New York Times in 2013. “But once you lose your luster, Wall Street is unforgiving and moves right on to the next story.”