Is It Okay To Put on A Down Jacket?

You don’t put on fur. You move on foie gras and ortolan. It’s unlikely you hunt for sport or know the place your neighbourhood’s nearest canine fights are held. However you in all probability eat meat and put on leather-based. Silk too. You’ll use medicines examined on lab rats, however not cosmetics sprayed within the eyes of monkeys. You’ll swat mosquitoes, however feed bees.

The ethics round animal cruelty are murky, a miasma of custom and emotion and morality. The fluffier the animal, the extra unpalatable it’s to kill it for meals or trend. The extra sensible the use to which we put an animal’s carcass, the extra acceptable it appears. Chasing foxes with canines then smearing the blood on a 12-year-old’s face? Not cool. Cattle marched right into a shed then bolt-gunned by way of the pinnacle? Certain, as long as I don’t have to consider it.

Down sits in a wierd place on that spectrum. There’s no denying its practicality; science has by no means give you any substance that gives as a lot insulation for as little weight. The evolutionary worth is clear – in case your insulation’s heavy, it’s more durable to flap your self off the bottom. That’s additionally why we stuff it into winter coats. Once you’re dragging all of your worldly possessions throughout an ice sheet, a coat that traps warmth however doesn’t weigh you down might save your life.

True down is the mushy, fluffy feathers that sit nearest a chook’s pores and skin, that are chock-full of heat-trapping, buoyancy-aiding air pockets. Birds are, understandably, very hooked up to these items. We gained’t unpick the ethics of carrying animal merchandise right here, however suffice to say there’s solely so cruelty-free down can ever be. If you need it, you need to take it, which at finest means after a duck or goose has been killed and earlier than it results in your chow mein.

Canada GooseCanada Goose

Like leather-based, most down is a by-product of the meals trade. However the perfect down comes from older birds, generally known as breeders, that are raised to provide the chicks which might be then despatched to slaughter. On welfare-minded farms, they’ll swim exterior and their down is collected from nests, till they move away naturally, at which level they’re plucked. However you too can ‘harvest’ the down whereas the chook’s nonetheless alive – in different phrases, tear the feathers from its breast and neck because it breaks its wings making an attempt to get away. Then when you bung it again in its cage (when you’ve stitched up any torn flesh) the down magically grows again even fluffier. At which level, you possibly can rip it out another time. Repeat each three months for 4 years till the chook, in reduction, pops its clogs.

If you happen to personal a down jacket that’s greater than six years outdated, odds are there’s some live-plucked feathers inside. If you happen to purchased one final week, from a big-name trend model that touts its moral credentials, properly, there nonetheless could be some live-plucked down inside. Round 80% of the world’s down is produced in China, largely by unbiased farmers who’ve small flocks of geese and geese that offer all the way down to a central collector. Being small, they’ll provide their birds house to maneuver about and entry to ponds. Most don’t live-pluck. However some do, and scale means it’s tough to winkle out the dangerous apples.

PETA Supporters Protesting

The world’s different massive down producer is Hungary, the place live-plucking isn’t unlawful. The nation can also be the second largest producer of foie gras, the delicacy made by force-feeding geese and geese till their livers fatten up. Even when the down in your jacket wasn’t live-plucked, the creature it got here from might have led a nasty, brutish and quick life with a tube down its throat.

Even Patagonia, a model that’s eco-credentials are about as unassailable as they arrive, isn’t harmless right here. After a 2012 investigation by animal welfare group 4 Paws, it found that it had subsequent to no concept what was occurring in its provide chain and that its merchandise contained down from each live-plucked and force-fed geese. Its response was the Traceable Down Normal, which tracks birds from egg to abattoir to make it possible for nothing untoward occurs alongside the best way. Its largest competitor, The North Face, arrange the Accountable Down Normal, which gives comparable monitoring but additionally certificates the down that results in bedding.


Ethics are costly, which is why coats from manufacturers with a conscience value extra. Canada Goose, whose jackets have spawned a thousand knock-offs, sources most of its down from an Amish-like Christian sect, the Canadian Hutterites, who’ve bred free-range, field-raised geese for many years. It’s costly, however a small value to pay for the flexibility to sleep at evening. These knockoffs, nonetheless, are positively padded with one thing extra unpalatable.

The opposite possibility is to jettison the true stuff completely and plump for artificial down as a substitute. Although it will possibly’t fairly match the cosiness-per-gram of feathers, when you by no means intend to check your down jacket on a glacier, then that shouldn’t be an excessive amount of of an issue. Even within the tooth of the Beast of the East, artificial down is loads heat sufficient. That stated, it’s not completely problem-free; supplies like PrimaLoft and Thinsulate are principally plastic, which the planet gained’t thanks for.

The one actually no-harm down is perhaps the type collected from the Icelandic eider duck’s nests, by farmers who hold the birds shielded from predators. It’s a time- and labour-intensive course of and the down largely results in duvets, though Vladimir Putin as soon as commissioned an eiderdown coat that ran him nearly £10,000. Which is probably the one semi-ethical factor he’s ever accomplished.

The North FaceThe North Face

The Professional View

The Advocate

“When down is responsibly sourced and backed up by third-party certifications, such because the Accountable Down Normal, you possibly can relaxation assured that your down comes from birds which might be humanely handled. And as a biodegradable and renewable pure useful resource, down is a much more environmentally pleasant selection than synthetics. Search for RDS hang-tags to know that what you might be shopping for is responsibly sourced.” Daniel Uretsky, president of Allied Feather and Down, which provides all the way down to manufacturers together with the North Face and was instrumental in organising the Accountable Down Normal

The Activist

“Most down used as jacket filler comes from geese and geese stored on manufacturing unit farms the place they’re generally live-plucked. On the abattoir some birds aren’t adequately surprised earlier than their throats are reduce, in order that they’re nonetheless aware once they’re thrown into the scalding-hot water of the defeathering tank. The one option to assure that no birds suffered on your jacket is to decide on vegan fillers resembling PrimaLoft, Thinsulate, Plumtech (utilized by Save the Duck), and Thermoball (out there from The North Face), all of that are high-performing, cruelty-free insulators.” Yvonne Taylor, director of vegan company tasks at animal welfare group PETA

The Investigator

“If we might assure that every one down was an in any other case wasted by-product from small, comfortable farms the place geese and geese wandered freely in meadows and have been killed humanely, then it might be a lot simpler to reply sure. However is it higher to supply down from numerous small farms, the place dwelling situations are more likely to be higher nevertheless it’s not possible to audit the situations on all of them, or higher to supply it from massive farms the place you possibly can assure that not one of the birds are live-plucked or fattened for foie gras, however the dwelling situations aren’t as pure? There have been large leaps in creating artificial down in recent times, and I believe that this pattern goes to proceed and that finally down will likely be changed by one thing man-made.”

Sarah Stirling, outside author who lately delved into down for Summit journal

The Campaigner

“When shoppers select to make use of down merchandise, they need to at all times ask first how the down was sourced and the way the model or store can show that the down didn’t come from merciless sourcing. If they’ll’t show that the down is cruelty free (that farm audits happen or that they use a strict audit commonplace), we’d advise shoppers who care about animal welfare to keep away from down merchandise.”

Brian da Cal, nation director for animal welfare group 4 Paws UK

The Greatest Down Jackets

You’ve heard the arguments and the temperatures exterior aren’t getting any hotter. If you happen to resolve to insulate your self with a down jacket, one piece of recommendation we’re comfortable to offer is that this: get one thing that’s constructed to final. Normally which means shopping for from a specialist outside model as a result of their merchandise are designed to be worn and examined within the wild – which suggests they’ll final many a winter commuting within the metropolis. And positively longer than the common high-street possibility. That is our edit.

The North Face

A world-renowned outside model that has lately discovered favour with streetwear aficionados, the North Face produces a few of the most dependable technical gear on the planet. It makes use of down in its jackets, sleeping baggage and footwear and created the Accountable Down Normal to make sure larger management and visibility on down’s provide chain. It additionally produces vegan-friendly alternate options.

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Few attire manufacturers place environmental and ecological considerations on the coronary heart of their enterprise like Patagonia does. It created the Traceable Down Normal to guard animal welfare and assure shopper assurance ranges with sturdy farm audits made throughout its provide chain. On the model entrance, its jackets combine the daring colors and technical prowess wanted to woo everybody from precise mountaineers to city-dwelling wannabes.

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Patagonia Men's Down Sweater Jacket

Canada Goose

Probably the most influential outerwear manufacturers of latest years, its heavy-duty parka jackets spawned lots of imitators, however with the true factor comes with sure reassurances. The model has created its personal down requirements which ask its suppliers to certify that their feathers come as a by-product of the poultry trade, not from live-plucked or force-fed birds.

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Like a few of the different manufacturers on this record, Moncler has tightened its protocols on the provision of down in recent times in response to investigations and shopper demand. Third celebration checks and provider assurances are actually commonplace. The Italian luxurious model additionally has meticulous high quality management procedures that assure you gained’t be chilly when you’re decked out in considered one of its jackets. In addition to muted mountain gear, Moncler additionally produces loud prints and hues, together with a collaboration with designer Craig Inexperienced.

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MONCLER Down-filled hooded shell jacket


Maybe essentially the most in depth vary of down jackets out there at excessive avenue costs, Uniqlo’s stripped-back aesthetic and simple wearability is clear in its assortment. There’s a bigger provide chain at work right here, and cheaper costs, however with that inevitably comes a barely watered down strategy to traceability. The quick trend model’s mum or dad firm doesn’t have its personal down commonplace however says it “doesn’t knowingly use down or feathers utilized in our merchandise that originate from force-fed geese and geese or birds uncovered to dwell plucking.”

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