A typical down coat requires about 4 geese worth of plucked feathers, or the feathers of one goose plucked 4 straight consecutive seasons. These geese survive nightmarish conditions, plucked repeatedly until they die. The brands we've grown to know and love as paragons of the fashion world have no scruples about using the down of geese living in such conditions. Mass-market down is almost all plucked from live geese; this is the down used by most big brands, from high-fashion to no-name commercial brands. This means that the down in that jacket that has kept you warm through all those bone-chilling winters either caused 4 individual geese minutes of extreme pain, or one goose a lifetime of suffering.
But don't be too harsh on yourself. Down is the most effective material for keeping you warm. What would you do without it?
Down is roughly three times as warm (per ounce) as the best of similar synthetic materials. Synthetics also collect in lumps after long periods, creating loose and empty spots which will leave you cold. And goose down doesn't only keep you warm, it keeps you dry. It breathes, allowing the wearer to sweat and for liquids to be wicked away. Most synthetic down jackets trap in moisture instead of wicking it away.
So regardless of protesting against cruel practices, down jackets will persist because of their unparalleled functionality. We can't give up our down. But we don't have to. We can have our cake and eat it too. We can have down jackets and also not subject friendly waterfowl to lifetimes of endless physical torment. Enter the Antar Penguin down trench coat.
We wanted to replace the typical down jacket with not only a more ethically sound product but also a higher-quality, more efficient one, that could be worn as a fashion item, not simply an utilitarian article of clothing. We basically wanted to start a down revolution.
- A more ethical process of collection and manufacture
- A fashion-forward concept with a retro look (the always elegant trench coat, with a new cut and design)
- More effective down usage, meaning a warmer, stronger jacket (less down, more warmth)
A more ethical process of collection and manufacture
We're firmly against the harmful live-plucking of geese for down, though it is now the industry standard. Down, however, can also be plucked from geese after they're slaughtered for meat. This is more difficult, but worth it.
Less down is retrieved from dead geese than from live ones, and the down plucked from dead geese must be processed within 24 hours of plucking in order to be useful. This doesn't mean that the eventual down yield is of any lesser quality.
We set out to use as little down as possible in creating the Antar jacket, so that we could minimize our impact on the geese. With this as our central focus, we designed a jacket that used less down but used it more effectively. The Antar Penguin has nearly half the down of smaller down jackets, but is much more effective in keeping in warmth.
Most factories pluck live geese because it's faster and cheaper. You can usually pluck a live goose 4 times a year-- once each season. That's a lot of down. A dead goose, obviously, can only be plucked once. Antar searched the world over for a factory with the technology to quickly process the down plucked from dead birds on a large scale. We found one in Taiwan. The company was founded in 1908, but they are far ahead of its time. The group is the leader in ethical down manufacture-- all down geese are plucked post-slaughter. As the birds' bodies are sent for meat processing, their down goes to factory's state-of-the-art manufacturing plant. 24 hours later, the down is ready for filling into pillows, bedding and jackets.
Below is factory's certification, ensuring that their down is gathered according to the standards of ethical animal practice, from dead geese.
A fashion-forward concept with a retro look, the always elegant trench coat.
We wanted to design the Antar Penguin from the ground up, and create a truly revolutionary piece of clothing. So starting from square one, we began with a different angle cut.
We collaborated with high-profile designers on the design.
We wanted to improve the appearance of a down jacket, making it a bold fashion statement, while also making it even more useful than its uglier cousins.
More effective down usage, meaning a warmer, stronger jacket (less down, more warmth)
Antar jackets use significantly less down than other winter jackets, about a third of the standard. Using less down allows us to reduce our environmental footprint, but it doesn't mean a reduction in warmth. The jacket is designed to keep the warmth generated by the down in and close to the body. The unique design makes the Antar jacket warmer than conventional down jackets, despite its using less down.
The trench coat's cotton exterior is much thicker than the outer lining of ordinary down jackets; this results in a much tougher jacket that shields the wearer from the elements. A trench coat also offers much broader coverage than normal-length down jackets do.
By trapping the down inside of the thicker-skinned trench coat and covering the entire torso and waist, the Antar Penguin provides ultimate protection while also trapping warmth close to the body. The exterior acts almost like a shell, keeping the down close against the body so that it may best generate and conserve warmth. We wanted to be absolutely sure that the down was being used to its maximum potential.
Inside the thick cotton exterior, the jacket has a thin protective layer of paint, impervious to wind and water. This offers robust protection against the environment. It took us about two years of experimenting with different designs to come up with a product we were happy with.
We were careful to select the best in everything-- design, fabric and manufacture. Our designer is a seasoned veteran who hails from Spain. She made her name at Burberry and Mango, before moving on to help Antar create the Penguin. For jacket manufacture and assembly, we chose a well-respected factory specializing in down jackets; all tailoring and production is done by workers with 10 or more years of experience in down jackets.
During the development process, Antar suffered from a lack of funding (likely due to our insistence on only using the very best materials and manufacturing). A number of fashion brands expressed interest in investing, though their agreements came with certain stipulations which would have changed the nature of our company and gone against our central motivations. We refused to use the down plucked from live geese, and we refused to compromise on quality of materials.
Change is never easy. But we're set on seeing our concept through to fruition. And the concept is where it's at. We're proposing a conceptual revolution in the world of fashion, especially down garments. And we need your support to change the face of fashion, and to make the Antar penguin a commercial reality.
We couldn't be happier with our final product. it perfectly embodies the ideals our company is based on, is unique and excels in every aspect of production, and damn does it look good.
Wearing the Antar Penguin isn't only wearing a fashion statement, it's wearing an idea. That's what we're about.
Antar's plans don't stop with our Kickstarter. We plan to launch a "recovery program," which will allow for repeated re-use of your jacket's down. Through a recycling program, customers will be able to send their jackets in to change them for new models. Down doesn't deteriorate, so, after a strict inspection, we'll use the same down for your first jacket to fill your new one. This makes getting your new jacket a truly meaningful experience. By doing this, we hope to create a sustainable framework that honors not only the loyalty and satisfaction of our customers but also the birds that make everything possible.
Join the revolution!
Risks and challenges
It's not an easy thing to do to create a product that adheres to ethical standards of animal treatment while at the same time is a garment of the highest quality. Most brands settle for unethical down collection and processing in order to leave finances for quality manufacture. Antar wants to do both.
There are many challenges ahead, but we will not waver from our goal of creating a garment of the highest quality that is completely humane.
Of utmost importance is our continued insistence on fair labor. Geese aren't the only ones who need protecting. Just as we refused to support the mistreatment of geese in the down industry, we also refuse to engage in sweatshop manufacture. Most brands with similar products are unable to resist the temptation to maximize profits and keep costs down by using cheap (sometimes illegal) labor.
We need to create more product variation and offer more new colors and designs. We've stuck to our original designs in order to perfect them. Once we're fully underway, and we've received the backing we need, we'll be able to spend more time on new coats.
Another goal is to increase our production power so that we can extend our reach and meet demand.
Antar will remain true to its principles, no matter what happens. But we'll need your help. Humane clothing production is hard, and it's not cheap. By backing Antar, you'll be helping us change the face of fashion.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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