While the traceable and transparent sourcing is incredibly important to a material like down, it is not the complete story. The finest raw material can be easily destroyed through improper processing. At ALLIED, we understand the synergy between raw material and processing to create the lightest, warmest, cleanest, most durable and sustainable ingredient for our partners.
As a bluesign system partner, ALLIED has consistently provided the benchmark for cleanliness and has done so with the industry¡¯s most sustainable and environmentally friendly methods. Many suppliers will rush processing with harsh chemicals, extremely hot dryers or both. While this is fast and effective in getting rid of the unwanted elements at a reduced cost, the down is left brittle and much less durable than properly processed material. This may result in a cheaper jacket on the rack, but will not retain its loft and resiliency for as long as it should. .
Cleanliness is one of the most important features of a premium quality down. As a natural by-product, it is important that the material is properly cleaned to remove any unwanted residue, contaminants or other organic elements. The trick is to process the down in a way that provides a clean product but does not strip the clusters of their essential oils or cause it to become brittle through the use of bleaches, harsh chemicals or drying it too quickly.
An example of the importance of properly cleaned down is highlighted when looking at "the down allergy." Down allergies are very rare. Down is comprised of Keratin, a protein similar to the composition of our hair. While true down allergies DO exist, almost 99% of people who suffer a reaction to the use of down is reacting to down that has been improperly cleaned. As a natural product, down can be a breeding ground for dust mites and other allergens such as mold. We take great pride in providing a down that far exceeds all cleanliness tests for hypo-allergenic products.
Content can be considered in a couple of different ways. The primary view involves taking the raw material, processing and separating the down cluster from fiber, feathers, etc. In some cases, different countries require certain requirements for down cluster percentage in order to fulfill labeling laws, but generally speaking it is not always beneficial to simply have the highest cluster content. In a lower fill power, it can be beneficial to blend larger clusters with smaller ones to create a product that maximizes the performance of the insulation. This might result in a product with a slightly lower down cluster percentage, but better performing with the addition of the larger clusters.
Down is a bit like wine and whiskey, blends are often created to achieve a very particular result. In many cases, it is not just different fill powers that are blended. With decades of experience, we are able to create extremely precise insulations that maximize the design and manufacturing techniques of a particular product. This also allows our partners to use the world¡¯s oldest insulation in a new, precise and technically innovative way- even considering that the highest fill power may not be the best solution for the look, feel and performance desired.
How to help your down product last a lifetime.
Machine wash on normal cycle with a mild (preferably down product specific) detergent in cold water followed by an extra rinse cycle without detergent if possible.
The primary element in the destruction of down products lies in improper drying. Drying too fast and too hot will make the down brittle, but not drying thoroughly will cause the potential build up of mold and bacteria which will destroy the loft. Tumble dry low until completely dry (may take several cycles). Add three clean tennis balls to dryer to help re-fluff the down as it dries.
Your down products should be stored in an area away from high humidity. The product should also be allowed to breath and stored uncompressed to retain the down¡¯s resiliency and high loft.
While we will always suggest washing your down products, if you must dry clean your product, make sure that the dry cleaner has experience with down products. Harsh chemicals sometimes used in the dry cleaning process will strip the essential oils from the down causing the insulation to be brittle and lose much of it¡¯s loft.