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Style Advice

Is it ethical to wear down?

Is it ethical to wear down?

There’s an overwhelming sense, right now, that humanity as a whole is trying to do better. We've removed offensive terms from our vernacular, started using recyclable straws, and many of us have eliminated meat and dairy from our diets – all in an effort to do better by the planet and our furry friends. Big corporations and small grassroots efforts alike are prioritising ethical and sustainable behaviour in the retail space, and the world is becoming better informed about it (thanks largely to media coverage and social media campaigns). And as a result, there's an emphasis on using this information to make more conscious choices and course correct problem areas. 

One of those areas in discussion? ‘Down’, the feathers plucked from the chest of geese and ducks. The best insulator going, down’s warmth-enhancing effects in products like duvets and jackets are pretty much unrivalled – it also boasts the lowest carbon footprint of any other fill material, both natural and synthetic. The snag: its procurement can be incomprehensibly cruel and often involves the inhumane treatment of animals. So should you be more discerning when it comes to purchasing down? That choice is entirely yours, but if you would like to make purchases that are more animal friendly, an easy first step is to familiarise yourself with the Responsible Down Standard (RDS).

RDS is a voluntary program for suppliers of down products that ensures each stage of the products’ making complies with the animal’s welfare, (i.e. no force feeding or live plucking). Before buying down products, be sure to look out for a blue logo with the letters ‘RDS’ – this will help you identify if the item is a certified supplier. You can also check their website for a complete list. Brands like United Colors of Benetton, M&S, Berghaus, Columbia, Nike, and our own in-house brand MVP are all on board, while Patagonia has taken things two steps further by being the first brand certified to both the Responsible Wool Standard (for the welfare of sheep) and their own Traceable Down Standard, a framework that ensures that their down garments come from a responsible source that respects animal welfare. 

If you’d rather avoid purchasing products that use down, you can always opt for a synthetic alternative like the one pictured. Brands that have written off down altogether include Barbour, BoohooMAN, Ecoalf, and Reiss to name a few. It’s worth noting that synthetic alternatives, however, also have their environmental drawbacks. They’re usually made from petroleum-based fibres, which are non-degradable and therefore a long-term threat to the planet. 

So, for an entirely clear conscience, you’d be better off emigrating to Maui and packing in cold weather entirely. But if that isn’t an option, the imperfect solution for now is to weigh your down options, do what’s best for you, and take solace in the fact that the fashion industry is making strides to do better. Stay warm (and informed) out there.


Words: Ashiana Pradhan
Photography: Lola & Pani
Styling: Luke McDonald