When it comes to the future of down-filled winter apparel, it seems that the revolution will not be puffed. An innovative new material has successfully converted down into thin, stable sheets of fabric that can be layered inside apparel. This eliminates the iconic ‘Michelin Man’ puff effect created by the long-standard method of creating a series of individual internal chambers that are then each filled with loose down.
Known as Thindown, the material was originally pioneered by an Italian company with an eye toward the fashion industry. To create Thindown, down plumage is bonded together between thin layers of scrim (an ultralight fabric akin to what you find in thin pantyhose) to create sheets of one-centimeter-thick down ‘fabric.’
This is potentially revolutionary for several reasons. First, it completely eliminates the cold spots caused by shifting down and sewn-through (rather than internal) baffles and means that a Thindown jacket is warmer than a standard down jacket of equal thickness. Second, it allows manufacturers to become much more creative with how they use down in apparel since they are no longer limited by the need to compartmentalize the down. Third, the company claims that Thindown can be washed in a standard top-loading washing machine, rather than needing to be carefully hand-washed to prevent damage to the delicate internal baffles of today’s down jackets.
There are some unknowns, of course. Most significantly, time will be needed to determine whether and how Thindown holds up over years of use and abuse. This is a potentially crucial consideration given that today’s down jackets can easily last for decades without losing any of their warmth or loft. That being said, I expect Thindown to become increasingly common in the gear and fashion industry over the coming years.
For now, however, the only way you can get your hands on some is through Eddie Bauer, which has the exclusive rights to Thindown through 2018. At the end of September, the company released its first Thindown jacket, the Evertherm Down Jacket. Available in both men’s and women’s versions, the jacket comes in both a hooded ($279) and non-hooded ($249) version and weighs in at a paltry 9 to 14 ounces, depending on version and size.