Making a warm coat presents an interesting ethical dilemma for ecominded brands and shoppers. Feather down is very warm, but for years it’s raised concerns that the geese and ducks providing the down are brutally plucked while alive, leaving them nearly bare (fair warning: That link is not for the faint of heart). The alternatives on the market are mostly made with polyester or some other kind of petrochemical. Plastic is bad; animal cruelty is bad. What’s a cold ethical shopper to do? One company is offering an alternative: biodegradable down made from wildflowers.
It sounds almost too good to be true — like an alternative dreamed up by Snow White and her animal friends. But it’s very real. Wildflowers are coated in a biopolymer and infused with a gel, so you’re not just covering yourself in flowers, Midsommar style. The wildflowers are harvested, not farmed as a crop, and easily regenerate. Pangaia, the clothing company that owns the patent for FLWRDWN, says it reduces 12 tons of CO2 per hectare of plant material. It took almost ten years to develop the material.
Each coat is filled with 400 to 550 grams of plant matter, which means lots of wildflowers. Upon hearing about the material, I was curious how it would scale and be as widely available as feathers. Dr. Amanda Parkes, who worked on developing the material, assures me that’s not the case. “It regenerates naturally, which is a good sign that it restores the earth it is grown in, not depletes it. You can also plant it around other ecosystems. You can put it in environments with other kind of plants or animals, it doesn’t have to be cut off from other ecosystems. Both of those things contribute to how we can scale it more sustainably.”
The shell of the coat is not made from flowers, but recycled polyester. The first coats from Pangaia using FLWRDWN are available in two colors and sizes: black or white, long or short. The short one costs $550 and the long puffer costs $750. It’ll be available starting the 16th of December, but they’re on preorder now.