“People live a better life by utilizing functions provided by our rich natural resources. Goldwin implements such brand concept in their continuing product and material development to produce products that offer optimal performance in outdoor fields with the least impact to our environment.
While numerous high-performance synthetic materials are being developed, there are resources that reaffirm its value as “something irreplaceable in material development.” Down, which we often use in our ski and outdoor category, is one of such.
“Fascinating thing about down is its lightweight and excellent heat-retaining capability. It is an incredible material with superior moisture absorption-desorption ability that naturally adjusts humidity level. Moreover, down feather made of carbon fiber called hard keratin holds an amazing durability that sustains for 100 years. On top of having two contrary elements of lightness and durability, it has high compression recovery, which makes this an essential natural material in the harsh outdoor environment.”
Yu Kuroda, a merchandiser at Goldwin’s product development team states, down is used in many products designed for various categories including ski, outdoor and lifestyle this season, but every single items were designed using leading technologies and knowledges that optimized the ability of down.
“We utilize knowledge accumulated from our long history in developing ski apparels to choose materials and create designs that optimize characteristics of down. For example, we apply baffle construction to keep down in place to maximize heat-retention. There are also many other hidden details such as down inside handwarmer pockets for added protection against cold and down volume adjusted on some parts for better functionality.”
Hybrid material made of KODENSHI® combined with down, which is used in varieties of Goldwin products, was another development resulted from their pursue for functionality.
“KODENSHI® is a high-tech material made with ceramic microparticles embedded into a fiber, which can heat the microclimate by far-infrared radiation emitted from human body. Combining KODENSHI® enables better heat-retention using less down volume. We tend to use KODENSHI® down for products made for less intense activities and lifestyle items and apply down in products made for more active situations because of its excellent moisture/temperature control capability.”
Down is a high-performance material provided by our nature. But how its positioned today is concerning. Toshikatsu Kawada, CEO of “KAWADA Feather”, a feather specialist that has the world’s leading feather washing technology, is deeply concerned with the future of down.
“First of all, feathers are a by-product of poultry production. Back then, growth period of waterfowls was secured enough for full maturity. Matured poultry means matured feather, thus durable high-quality feather could be collected. However, the focus has shifted to increase economical activities and many farms are now cutting down the growth period to half of what it used to be. Consequently, collecting quality down is now increasingly difficult since both meat and feather are immature. This is the issue down is facing today.”
Down recycling project led by “KAWADA Feather” begun in the light to face the difficult situation of down material due to its decreasing quality. This project collects down products from 1980~90’s when high-quality downs were used in large quantities, then wash and revive the material back to its high-quality state for recycling. However, reviving down materials to the level comparable to virgin down was possible because of KAWADA Feather’s superior washing technology.
“Our base, Meiwa-city in Mie prefecture, is the place we found in our search for ultimate location to process feathers. Its dry climate and soft water coming from Oudaigahara mountains enabled perfect wash process required for high-quality downs.”
In this facility, every dust, dirt, residue of waterfowls get eliminated completely with cutting-edge washing technology they developed over the years. Their washing technique uses the natural soft water and creates complex water current that rub feathers against each other, making them clean and polished. Clean feathers regain its shape and durability without any dust or allergen, and less likely to cause allergies. In addition, alkalescent water has a property that can reverse oxidation which revives damaged parts of the feather. Washed feathers goes to their inhouse lab for quality check. Only the ones that meet very high-quality standard which is stricter than their general level set by Japan Feather Product Association get selected for recycling. This is how used feathers are recycled to down quality equivalent to virgin down or even better.
With shared goal to “efficiently utilize our limited resource,” Goldwin joined KAWADA Feather’s effort and actively incorporating recycled down into its products. Ski down jacket mentioned in the beginning by Kuroda is also a product that uses recycled down. Even though the product uses recycled down, it is exceptionally comfortable without any restrictive feel and indistinguishable to virgin down. The product has a thought-through design and details that enhances the characteristics of down such as an application of firmer material for outside and soft material for lining to make the product more comfortable while minimizing the bulkiness.
Kuroda sees future of down as follows; “Goldwin is currently using only 2 kinds of down; recycled and KODENSHI®, for their products. We are developing a new material with characteristics of down but such high-performance material that could replace down still hasn’t been created. Mastering the hybrid production of down and new material while actively recycling down will lead to a protection of our irreplaceable resources. This is how we will move forward with down in the future.”
“We plan to facilitate an environment where people become more involved with recycling. For instance, we will participate in awareness activities through our recycled down products to promote longer use of down products. We will also inspire the young generation to play in the snow and recognize the brilliance of down material to increase their awareness for recycling. Because our nature provides us with many resources, we believe it is our duty to give our best efforts in such activities to sustain them.”
For our sustainable future with irreplaceable resources. Sustainable products from Goldwin might inspire you to rethink your way with down this season.