Does your apparel brand promote the true story of the Holocaust? If not, it may be wise to check out Summit Ice. The brand was created by comedian and TV mastermind Nathan Fielder when he discovered Vancouver jacket company Taiga published a tribute to a Holocaust denier. Since then, Summit Ice’s mission has been to raise awareness for the true events of the Holocaust. Its philanthropic and comedic aspects (the brand was concocted on Fielder’s hilarious show, Nathan For You) have led to great success. Since 2013, the company has raised over $300,000 for the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre (VHEC), plus a recent donation of $150,000 in congruence with the opening of the pop-up shop.
On March 26, Summit Ice opened their first outlet located at Main and Broadway in a one-day only event. If you brought in a Taiga jacket, you could trade it in for a Summit Ice jacket for free — something many took advantage of.
I was the second person in line at 8:30 a.m. Over the next two and a half hours, the line grew to over a hundred people — this was the iPhone equivalent for Vancouver comedy geeks. When looking at the storefront, two things stood out — the informative banner on the atrocities that took place at Auschwitz-Birkenau and the chiseled male model sporting a softshell.
Decorating the wall inside was a banner with the company’s slogan, “deny nothing,” alongside posters describing the conditions within concentration camps. Near the till was a garbage bin labeled “Taiga” with a red line through it. While I was one of the first few inside, the bin was beginning to fill with anti-Semitic apparel. A TV was playing a loop of an ad reminding you to never deny your courage, your strength or the Holocaust.
Before entering, every customer had to answer the same deadpan question by a security guard: “Do you have any guns or bombs?” I — like most people — didn’t, so I was let in.
Fielder himself was behind the register of the store, which was all by donation. I will admit, I was fairly starstruck. His show is likely one of the funniest on television and I’ve religiously watched every episode. I tried to play it cool while I bought a t-shirt. Fortunately, Fielder was extremely accommodating, thanking me for my donation. Immediately beside him was a woman who asked if I wanted to hear facts about the Holocaust. She read off a printed copy of the Wikipedia page for it and then asked me if I believed the Holocaust happened, to which I replied, “absolutely.” I was given a “deny nothing” pin and a sheet with several Holocaust facts.
After a photo with Fielder, my friend and I left the Summit Ice pop-up shop. At this point, the line had stretched down the block and had curled around the corner out of sight. There were several cameras out front — one notably for CBC and another for Nathan For You.
While the entire company is a strange idea, it works surprisingly well. The punchline of a brand so intensely dedicated to telling the truth about the Holocaust is made sincere with the sizable donations Summit Ice is making to Holocaust education in Vancouver. All things considered, the pop-up shop was giving money to a good cause with the added bonus of visiting Fielder’s amusement park of absurdity and commerce.