For Arctic Temperatures. That's what the F.A.T. stands for. I never knew that until I interviewed James Chung, the CEO of Triple F.A.T. Goose. As a kid growing up in the Golden Ages of Hip-Hop, down winter coats were referred to as "Gooses." Many figured it was because of the feathers that made them fat and warm. But really it was because the brand James' father built, with little to no marketing, was so strong and influential. The hood still refers to parkas and bubble winter coats as "Gooses." Rappers mentioned the brand in their songs and wore it in their videos, which translated into sales.
My parents bought me a Goose every couple years for school because the coats were stylish, durable, warm, and affordable. I remember turning them inside out to show off the famous flock of geese in the inner lining.
Now, in 2015, Triple F.A.T. Goose looks to carve out their place in the winter coat market once again. We spoke the company's CEO about the Triple F.A.T.'s past, present, and future.
Talk about the beginning, who started the company?
The company started with my father and his business partner, back in the day. I was a young kid, so a lot of the history stuff I’m not really as well versed in, but they definitely started the brand they wanted to create: Great quality down jackets. They were fortunate enough to build something that really accelerated. My dad’s partner was on Good Day New York because the jackets became so popular. The whole premise was building a brand with zero to no marketing. That’s one of the fortunate things we had going for us back in the day.
I remember as a kid, everyone called those jackets “Gooses,” were they the first of its kind on the market?
I can say there are a lot of copy cats out there and I’m not going to say who they are, but when you’re a leader in the market there are always people who follow so that just comes with the territory.
It’s interesting that you guys didn’t have any marketing. However, in my eyes, a lot of the marketing came from the hip-hop community. I would hear rappers talk about Triple F.A.T. Gooses in their raps all the time. I know that wasn’t always good publicity for you guys. There’s a G-Unit song where Tony Yayo raps, “As a youth, man, I used to hustle for loot/With that lil deuce-deuce in my Triple F.A.T. Goose."
Yeah I know that one. Honestly, all that stuff wasn’t from us. We just created a good product and people gravitated towards it.
What does "fill" mean? The New York rap collective Ratking put out a tape called 700-Fill, in reference to North Face jackets and Triple FAT Goose jackets. Can you elaborate on what "fill" means?"
The fill power is the volume of the down. There’s different rating systems and they’re jackets that range from low end which is 400-Fill to the high upper end which is 900-Fill. I don’t know why they are picking out 700 in particular.
Yeah, I think it was some of their favorite jackets, the 700-Fill Goose down. You guys probably weren’t the first down jacket maker on the market but you guys were the first to make leather down jackets.
Yeah, definitely! That was one of the styles we had back in the day.
The skateboard company Supreme took inspiration from that.
Yeah, that’s the nature of the fashion business. I don’t have any problems with that.
Are you guys going to bring back the leather down jacket?
Right now we have this collection online, we might bring back certain styles for limited runs. We might even do a collaboration with certain brands but that’s kind of a little bit down the pipeline. Leather would be great, actually.
You guys have some nice simple designs on the site.
Yeah, we went with a minimalist approach with this collection.
You mentioned that Triple F.A.T. was rebranding. When did the brand leave the market?
I think it was around the late '90s. We brought the brand back because, honestly, a lot of people were asking for it. The crazy weather we’ve been having played a part too. So we decide to bring it back with a different spin to it.
Reading the website, I figured out that "F.A.T." meant "For Arctic Temperatures." I never knew it was an acronym.
The down jackets from back in the day the Triple F.A.T. Goose jackets were known to have extra cloth in them for bulkier jackets but with this "For Arctic Temperature" is kind of the central theme of this collection. We say Triple F.A.T. Goose is engineered for all temperatures, right? So there are design elements to it that we didn’t have back in the day that we updated. A lot of that is because winter is really cold these days and we felt that our customers needed that kind of product.
You guys are based on the East Coast and are very popular within the urban community. It’s kind of different now with the Internet but as a company how do you react to people mentioning your brand name in songs and stuff like that?
I think it’s great! I think it’s a blessing more than anything else.
Yeah, it’s free marketing. Some people say they don’t like it. I remember the owner of Cristal had an issue with Jay Z.
Oh, no, not like that at all. If people mention it, I think that’s a good thing. I don’t see why anyone would have a problem with it.
Why bring it back? What are you trying to accomplish now, going forward?
For us, it was again, really because a lot of guys were asking for it, and we wanted to bring it back with kind of a performance edge. We kind of stayed true to the roots because back in the day jackets were inspired from ski styles. We took contrast fabrications and block segments in the jackets; all the styles are inspired from our archives of our designs. For example, we still have our inner lining pattern but the fabric is whole a lot better from what we used in the past. There’s a whistle too, a lot of people were asking us to bring back that whistle.
The great thing is a lot of people remember the brand and have stories that brings smiles to their face. That whistle is one of those things. It's an authentic hunting whistle that produces the sound of a Goose. We put it in the kid’s jackets, its hidden inside the inner chest pocket of the jacket. It might annoy the hell out of their parents [Laughs.]
I see that you mixed the old with the new. The designs are minimalist but you incorporated storm cuffs, side vents and stuff like that.
Yeah, because there’s a lot of good outerwear out there but at a high price point like $1,000, right? Then you have the lower mid-tier jackets, which really don’t have those elements, and so we took elements from those upper-tier jackets and brought it to our collection to the mid-tier market. We're providing a lot of value in these jackets in terms of quality and styling. Some of the elements that we took from those upper-tier jackets are storm cuffs, side vents. 10,000 millimeter fabrication, and real coyote fur ruffs.
How does a company that’s so popular fall off the market?
I can’t really say. My father or his business partner made that decision. I do know a lot of brands operate in cycles and I just think that right now there’s a cycle for a need for really good outwear, that’s why we’re back right now.
Around the mid to late '90s to around the early '00s, the market started to get over saturated. You had First Down, South Pole, The North Face.
Yeah there’s a lot of it out there.
Now you guys are back and are you tap into the hip-hop community?
We just try to create a really great product but don’t get me wrong, we product place it on different artists and athletes. We try to product place it all around.
Are you going to do more of the old designs eventually?
I think so. I really want to bring back some of those original styles from back in the day. Again, it might be in the form of collaboration.
There are some of the old school jackets on the site's "Inspiration" page.
I always check the customer service emails and I look at what customers are asking for. Sometimes customers send me styles that they want. I’m getting a lot of emails right now from women that want jackets because we don’t have women’s collection. We’re actually working on that for next year, and we take a lot of design feedback from our customers too. A lot of them recommend styles to me, or little things that they’re looking for in jackets; actually the storm cuffs came from somebody. That came from a email from somebody that was asking for it.
You ever go out on eBay to see the old stuff that’s up there?
Yeah, I’ve seen that stuff. It’s amazing how much stuff is still out there, it’s great to see that people like the brand.
I see a lot of Triple F.A.T. NFL coats for sale online.
Yeah, we got the NFL license back in the day. That was a great opportunity, its something we consider for the future. This is really the starting point we’re really looking to build this brand into something big, it might be with collaborations, it might be bringing back old styles it might be with the NFL. Its kind of a blank slate right now.