Innovative Biodegradable Fiber Created To Replace Animal Feathers In Fashion

Down production can cause extreme suffering to animals
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Birds after the agony of live plucking - and a coat from PrimaLoft (Photo: Fourpaws/PrimaLoft)

Birds after the agony of live plucking - and a coat from PrimaLoft (Photo: Fourpaws/PrimaLoft)

As winter fashion hits the shops, down jackets once again appear on UK high streets - but now more than ever, consumers are aware of the cruelty behind down production.

Undercover investigations have shown geese and ducks having feathers violently ripped from their bodies, while still fully alive and conscious. In theory, birds aren't meant to be plucked until they are slaughtered for meat, but live-plucking still frequently occurs in the down industry.

Cruelty of down

Down is sometimes also linked to foie gras, the cruel 'delicacy' for which birds are force-fed to make their livers swell to many times its natural size.

Some geese and ducks go through the unimaginable hell of both being force-fed for foie gras and live-plucked for down in their lifetime - one of the most horrific destinies that animals have to face at the hands of humans.

Vegan fillers for jackets and bedding have existed for a long time. Made from recycled plastic bottles (Plumtech) or tree fibers (Flocus) among other materials, high-tech vegan materials have excelled when it comes to performance, warmth and resistance.

Live plucking is excruciating for animals (Video: Peta)

Biodegradable option

Some synthetic fibers can be harmful to the environment, as they don't biodegrade. But now, there is one more advantage to using cruelty-free filler: there is a biodegradable option.

PrimaLoft, a US-based manufacturer of high-tech insulating materials, is known for its resistant high-performance down-free filler that was originally developed for the US army and has been used by North Face, Patagonia and Adidas among over 500 other brands.

PrimaLoft's filler uses a proprietary microfibre structure to help retain warmth and conserve energy. Its fibers, which are a fraction of the diameter of a human hair, form a tight collection of air pockets that retain the natural heat of the body heat and form a shield against cold weather.

Eco-friendly fashion

Following years of research, the brand recently introduced a new technology: a synthetic fiber that is made with recycled yarns – and is biodegradable.

After being tested in a landfill for 365 days, it was shown that the pioneering fiber had a reported decomposition rate of 75.9 percent, compared to the standard 1-12 percent decomposition rate of a traditional synthetic filler, which is typically made from polyester.

Making synthetic fibers biodegradable has been a challenge for vegan fashion - and by overcoming it, PrimaLoft is now challenging stereotypes that portray animal fabrics as less harmful to the environment.

The brand's goal is for the fabric to be available for purchase by 2020.

*This article was edited on November 13 to remove the claim that 'live-plucked down still finds its way into Responsible Down Standard-certified down'. A representative for RDS contacted PBN to say all exposes claiming to show this 'have been proven false'.