By Craig Patterson
Popular Canadian fashion and outerwear brand Moose Knuckles, which has recently expanded its operations to include standalone stores in Canada, has been ranked as the top parka brand in terms of having the highest thermal insulation value in a scientific university study that tested Moose Knuckles with jackets from Canada Goose, Mackage and Woolrich.
The study was conducted by the Institute for Environmental Research (IER) at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas, in June of this year. Meredith Schlabach, Coordinator of Testing Services at IER led the study.
The purpose of the study was to measure the thermal insulation value of cold weather garments tested with a base ensemble and determine the temperature ratings for comfort. The basic idea was to measure the resistance to dry heat transfer from a sophisticated heated thermal manikin to a fairly calm, cool environment. The thermal resistance (insulation) value was then used in a body heat loss model to determine the air temperature for comfort.
A manikin in the shape and size of a “typical man” with 20 independently heated thermal zones was utilized for the study. The manikin was first dressed in the base ensemble garments (shirt, jeans, underwear, socks, athletic shoes, gloves, and hat). To conduct a test, each jacket was put on over the same base ensemble garments and all closures were secured. Jackets with a hood were tested with the hoods either detached (if possible) or rolled-up and pinned off the back. The dressed manikin was then heated to a constant surface (i.e., “skin”) temperature and allowed to come to thermal equilibrium in a controlled environmental chamber. The results of the test indicated the total insulation value, or “warmth”, of the clothing ensemble. The higher the thermal insulation (clo) value, the warmer the ensemble.
The insulation values obtained from the manikin test for each jacket were also used in a body heat loss mathematical model to predict the lowest environmental temperature for comfort at different activity levels. In other words, a temperature rating was assigned to each jacket. According to the study, results were realistic because the jackets were worn over other clothing that was representative of garments that a reasonable person might wear with the jackets.
The Moose Knuckles MK4661MP parka came out on top with a thermal insulation value of 2.11 clo, versus 2.03 clo for the Canada Goose Trillium Parka, 1.96 clo for the Mackage Akiva Parka, and 1.84 clo for the Woolrich Arctic Parka. The corresponding temperature ratings for low activity levels (for example, walking slowly) were 4.3°C, 5.3°C, 6.2°C, and 7.8°C respectively. As part of the rigorous testing which the university conducted, the thermal insulation values for just the torso and arms of the manikin (i.e., only those areas covered by the jacket and base ensemble shirt) were also compared. Again, the Moose Knuckles parka ranked tops (4.11 clo) with second-place going to Mackage (4.01 clo), third place to Canada Goose (3.98 clo), and fourth place for Woolrich (3.49 clo).
The findings are a further feather-in-the-cap of the rapidly expanding retailer, which opened its first standalone store in North America last winter and has plans of immediate expansion within Canada and the United States.
The very unique Yorkdale Moose Knuckles store, located in the mall’s 2016 expansion wing that is anchored by Nordstrom, was designed by award-winning firm Burdifilek. Details of the retail space include real wood tile flooring, a wall is clad in raw steel, and there’s a deerskin couch covered in vinyl — it was explained that it was a take on ‘grandma’s sofa’. Stan Vyriotes and David Wedermire of brokerage DWSV Remax Ultimate Realty Inc. represented Moose Knuckles in its lease deal with landlord Oxford Properties. Prominent retail consultant Andrea Elliott of r2 retail sources acted as advisor for the store’s retail portfolio.
Moose Knuckles’ CEO Noah Stern described the Yorkdale store as “A unique environment using many custom materials that had never before been used in a retail space. I was very demanding, and they delivered. Given the complexity of the build, I oversaw every step of the production and practically made Yorkdale my home for a few months.”
Mr. Stern went on to discuss why Moose Knuckles sought to get the word out on the warmth of its jackets. “One day, I was in line at Starbucks across from our flagship, and I overheard these 2 young dudes in front of me in line talking about purchasing a winter coat – 1 of them needed something new. They talked about a few competing brands not having the “cool factor”. Then they mentioned Moose Knuckles. My ears stood at full attention. The guy who needed a coat said “Moose is high on cool factor, love the fashion and the vibe, but not sure whether Moose will keep me warm enough. I think I am going to buy a Canada Goose, not as high on cool factor but for sure warmer”.
“Man was I PISSED. I run the production for Moose and have been in and around coats my whole life, being a 4th generation “coat-man” (my great-grandfather having started in the coat business in 1921). I knew we had the best product – we use the best materials, are the most highly engineered, the most highly constructed and tailored, and in my opinion offer the warmest core products on the market. Our customer was trusting us for our fashionability and fit, but did they really appreciate the quality and warmth? Why should the customer trust one man’s opinion?”
The Kansas State University study no doubt reflects the warmth factor of Moose Knuckles’ winter garments.
Ayal Twik, President of Moose Knuckles, explained how “the Moose Knuckles store in Yorkdale is located in one of the most premier luxury outerwear corridors in the world. When someone is shopping for a luxury winter coat, there is no better place to go.”
Being known as an edgy fashion brand has its challenges and he went on to say, “What always bothered us in an environment with so much consumer choice, was that since Moose had such a fashion point of view the knock against us was that we could not be both fashionable AND technical. We know our coats are built like tanks and are able to withstand any climate”. With the study’s findings, he said “We are happy to see that these independent lab results prove that we are warmer than the most trusted brands out there.”
Moose Knuckles is a fairly new brand — it was founded in Toronto in 2009, by Will Poho and Mark Peros, and much of its manufacturing is done in Winnipeg. The company endeavours to make “the leanest, toughest and most luxurious sportswear in the world,” and its product lines include a range of weatherproof coats, lightweight jackets, knitwear, shirting, and accessories.
Quality is key, with special attention paid to tailoring, materials and hardware — luxury-grade fox fur from Finland is used as trim, and 600 to 700+ fill power gray duck and goose down is used as a thermal insulator. Moose Knuckles products are available in some of the world’s top retailers and in North America, the brand’s clothing is available at Holt Renfrew, Sporting Life, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, and other leading retailers, and it’s also available globally at prestigious retailers such as Globus in Switzerland, Breuninger in Dusseldorf, de Bijenkorf in Amsterdam, 10 Corso Como and La Rinascente in Milan, Selfridges and Harrod’s in London.
As Moose Knuckles continues to gain brand awareness and fans in Canada and around the world, the brand is expected to continue with a careful roll-out of standalone stores to compliment its wholesale network. Burdifilek’s Diego Burdi and Paul Filek explained that the new store was designed to embody the Moose Knuckles brand, in a way not possible in a multi-brand retailer where Moose Knuckles might otherwise have a wholesale presence. As well, the Yorkdale concept is designed with an aesthetic that would fit in if the brand were to open stores in markets such as Paris, Milan or Tokyo, for example.