Transformations are at the heart of Angel Chen’s Canada Goose designs, with clever structures meant to convert for both climate conditions and styling purposes.
Bold color and visual symbols of Chinese identity are both signatures of Chen’s work, seen in previous collaborations with brands like adidas, M.A.C., H&M, and Lipton Iced Tea.
- The designer created special embroideries exclusively for the collaboration, inspired by her journey through Canada.
This exclusive interview with Angel Chen is part of Jing Daily’s bi-weekly Collabs and Drops newsletter — your 360-degree lowdown on the world of collaboration. Subscribe here.
Collaborating has become part of Toronto-based down-jacket brand Canada Goose’s DNA, having previously released product lines with mainstream players like Be@rbrick, Vetements, and Opening Ceremony. However, Chinese talent Angel Chen was their first ever guest designer in January 2021, and nine months later she’s back with a second Canada Goose capsule – a welcome marriage, considering the brand’s soaring demand in the China market.
And the Fall 2021 collection showcases just as much dynamism as their first. Proving that Canada Goose is serious about a new strategy of expanding its product offerings, the range consists of various coats, from the Bayan Puffer to the Cropped Snow Mantra Parka, two handbags, and some rain jackets.
One of the capsule’s cross-body bags converts into a backpack, similar to how the Rayla Vest’s hood unzips to create a statement collar. Meanwhile, the Bayan Puffer and Bayan Vest are also reversible, offering two designs in one. In fact, transformations seem to be at the heart of Chen’s Canada Goose designs, with clever structures meant to convert for both climate conditions and styling purposes.
Another of Chen’s recognizable touches is her bold color and visual symbols of Chinese identity: both now-signatures of the designer’s work after her previous collaborations with the likes of adidas, M.A.C., H&M, and Lipton Iced Tea.
Chen has succeeded in injecting the 64-year-old Canada Goose brand image with fresh relevance and has connected it to a loyal Chinese consumer base, as well as the brand’s fans in Europe (Chen is known for having studied at London’s esteemed Central Saint Martins University).
In the lead up to the official October 25 collaboration launch, Chen spoke to Jing Daily’s Collabs and Drops newsletter about being invited back by Canada Goose a second time and how she weaved the Angel Chen brand seamlessly into the Canada Goose product line.
Jing Daily (JD): Were you familiar with Canada Goose growing up in Shenzhen?
Angel Chen (AC): I’ve always been aware of Canada Goose as a functional brand and that their down jackets can carry you through the harshest of winter months and climates, so it is a great honor to work with a heritage brand such as Canada Goose.
What made you want to work on a second collaboration with Canada Goose?
It was an exciting project for me, and I was looking forward to seeing new chemistry between Eastern and Western cultures. The conversation with Canada Goose started in October of 2019, and I was lucky enough to visit their headquarters at the very beginning of 2020, before the pandemic. Both collaborations were designed during my trip to Canada.
The team was welcoming and supportive throughout the entire process. It was inspiring to discover such a beautiful operation in Toronto, browse through the archives, and learn how to make a well-crafted down jacket.
Can you tell us a bit about this latest collection?
Like last season’s collection, I’ve twisted the silhouette and made it more stylish and functional for Fall ’21. For example, you can turn the Convertible Snow Mantra Parka into a down vest or a short down jacket for different weather conditions, and the belt on the long wind jacket shows more curves and style options for women. These are all elements you can see in my own collection, but here I’ve married them with Canada Goose’s iconic products.
How do you approach collaborating as an independent designer?
There are three features from my brand I wanted to bring to the collaboration. When I’m creating a collection, the first element I keep in mind is color. I want to make sure a collection is full of color because my family background is in painting. My dad is kind of a color engineer and has been sitting in a lab and discovering color his whole life, so I want to keep that DNA in my collection. The second is a mix of Eastern and Western cultures. I always want to bring traditional Chinese elements into a more contemporary aesthetic. The third is creating a collection that is somewhat genderless and more contemporary — without boundaries between country, age, and gender.
How do you ensure that your Chinese graphics get tastefully represented when working with a foreign brand?
Chinese embroidery has been a signature of my brand. I designed special embroideries exclusively for our collection, inspired by my journey in Canada. Through these embroideries, you can see the story of my travels in Canada, learning about the amazing Canada Goose craftsmanship. Its Snow Mantra is the ultimate expression of craftsmanship, designed to protect against the world’s most extreme elements. It takes eight and a half hours to construct, a total of 247 pieces with 49 sets of hands, and it will keep you warm in -30°C weather and below.
The characters represent a curious Angel taking on a Canadian journey and exploring nature, depicted through snowy mountains and people summiting peaks. Other embroidered graphics in the collection show a dragon flying from East to West, an homage to the two cultures coming together.
Do you think collaborating with such an established company like Canada Goose changes the public perception of your brand?
I really appreciate this opportunity to present the ANGEL CHEN brand to Canada Goose’s community. I’m able to showcase a fusion of Eastern and Western cultures and styles to a broader audience. Therefore, the collection becomes a way to communicate between different cultures.
Also, these collaborations with Canada Goose have allowed both brands to explore new possibilities and make more breakthroughs, particularly through design and craftsmanship. It is exciting that the public will see both ANGEL CHEN and Canada Goose from different perspectives.
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