Heritage in Every Fibre
Based in Montreal, Canada, Moose Knuckles is one of the world’s leading producers of luxury outerwear, sportswear and accessories. To learn more about this brand, RLI spent some time with CEO Victor Luis to find out about the history of the company, how its latest flagship store expresses the brands attitude and what the future holds for the business.
For thousands of years, in the sunless months of the frozen Yukon, the mythical moose provided food, shelter and protection from the elements. In 1921, the family of old-world outdoors people ventured into northern lands where they were inspired by the moose’s ability to stay warm in the coldest place on Earth.
In the face of all things serious, they were a tribe. They would ruffle feathers but always brought on the good times around the fire in the dead of the night. Against all odds, they rallied the bravest souls to push further in the far stretches of the tundra on their mission to find warmth in the most unlikely places.
“So began the coat-making journey of crafting the world’s most resilient garment that would endure the most unforgiving conditions,” explains Victor Luis, CEO of Moose Knuckles. “With every generation, new skills and techniques were applied to our materials to better brave the environment, resulting in a century of relentless craftsmanship and refinement.”
Over the course of its history since being founded in 2009, the business has become globally known for its relentless commitment to product design and technical expertise alongside its irreverent spirit and energy, inspired by the moose, a fearless creature that has no predators in the wild.
The brand was built on the belief that they could make the leanest, toughest and most luxurious sportswear in the world. They engineer Canadian know-how, grit and heritage into every fibre, stitch and zipper and they stand by their impeccable tailoring, ethically sourced materials and premium hardware. Their mission is to keep its customers warm to their core so they can ignite the fire within.
Today, the Spirit of the Moose lives on in a collection of breakout fashion sportswear and accessories born from the tundra, made for the concrete jungle. The brand name pays homage to the majestic animal that inspired it all, leaving only the trace of its knuckle in the snow, guiding voyageurs on their endless pursuit of adventure.
Moose Knuckles is carried at its selection of boutiques, exclusive international luxury department stores and independent retailers across Canada, the US and China.
“We are a Canadian-born brand and so naturally our presence is significant in our home country. Beyond that, we have also established very strong footholds in Europe and Asia; Korea, notably, stands out as a robust market for us. Our business enjoys a near equal distribution across North America, Europe and Asia and this is something we are very proud of as a company,” Luis highlights.
Their most recent flagship site was unveiled last October in Atlanta, Georgia and the store concept inside was conceived in partnership with Tokyo-based architectural firm Curiosity, known for its diverse portfolio of work with other premier luxury labels such as Fendi and Versace. The business, led by esteemed interior and product designer Gwenaël Nicolas, known for his minimal, airy presentation with a focus on light and movement through spaces.
Inspired by the exhilarating freedom of winter life beyond the imagination, the store concept is composed of a series of experiences allowing customers to encounter varying aspects of the brand. The “Moose cocoon”, an inviting fabric space illuminated with light from within welcomes customers at the window personifying the cozy, protective warmth and essence of Moose Knuckles’ cold weather technology.
“Inside, the store design recreates a cityscape featuring large sculptural elements representing a captivating skyline. The first impression is created by a strong stone façade featuring floor-to-ceiling digital screens, transporting the visitor immediately to the extremes of the Canadian tundra contrasted by urban nature,” Luis says.
This combination of graphical elements, rhythm and presentation of the products bring a modern and youthful feeling to the space. The contrasting palette of materials fuse the polarising landscapes together from natural finishes such as Canadian oak and textured stones while concrete floors and metallic mesh partitions provide industrial visual effects.
To express the irreverent attitude of the brand, mannequins are positioned at the top of the displays as if they are ready to jump into bustling street life. A wall inspired by the brand’s logo connects visitors to Moose Knuckles’ identity, highlighting the label’s iconic products and its Icons collection of outerwear and highlight of the label’s FW22 campaign.
“One final unique design element is within the technologically advanced fitting rooms, where a “magic” mirror conceals a digital screen that reveals itself once a visitor is inside and wearing the label’s RFID tag-equipped garments, simulating immersive brand-related experiences.”
As the interview moves onto the development pipeline moving forward, Luis explains that whilst they continue to search for innovative locations to take the brand to that represent its ethos, he comments that they have to be patient in finding the correct locations and will not just take any site because it is available, it must be the right one to take the company forward.
“While our global reach brings us immense satisfaction, it also presents a world of opportunities within each unique market. For instance, post-pandemic, we are observing exceptional growth in the UK, Germany and China. What’s exciting is that our brand extends beyond outerwear, with ready-to-wear and accessories experiencing remarkable demand. A case in point is that our signature icon cap has become one of our top sellers, signalling ample room for expansion in these categories,” Luis comments.
“With so much happening in the world of Moose Knuckles right now and with so much on the horizon, now is the time to ensure we stay true to our principles, because it is these that have brought us to where we are today and what will take us forward in the right direction. As a business we cannot wait to see what the future holds,” Luis concludes.