Down products . . . the luxury, the soft sensual feel. Oh, but only for a brief time. This is all too true for lovers of down.
Why do so many products end up with feather and down bleeding through
the fabric of comforters and pillows after such brief periods of use?
Why do many of these same products have a loose and empty feel to them?
We have all had the same experience with down products. We buy a luxuriously
soft and yet adequately plump down sleep pillow only to find that within
six months it has been reduced to a sack of sloppy sleeping headaches.
Something that you have to punch, roll, tuck and fold to get that same
full yet soft feel it had when it was purchased.
It is important to understand the principles of “down dynamics”
to make wiser purchasing decisions.
Department stores mass purchase down products from the lowest bidder offering
the highest profit margin. These very products have been mass-produced
with the lowest cost and lowest quality materials for the manufacturer’s
highest profit margin.
They are marked up and sold to the retail customer at prices that appear
to be quite reasonable. For example, a down comforter or a standard sleep
pillow that normally sells for $99.95 may sell for a great sale price
of $89.95. Think about that. How high can the quality be on a product
with a dealer cost considerably less than half of the retail purchase
FILL AND THREAD COUNT
Research through federal regulating sources indicates that many domestic
(American-made) down products aren’t necessarily made with down-proof
materials. The minimum federal standard for “feather and down-proof”
products has been established for domestic fabric woven at 180 threads
per square inch and finished (washed with 10 percent shrinkage and starched),
thereby producing the end-product, a 200 thread-count fabric that meets
the minimum federal standard.
Please note the word “minimum.” What follows over a number of
months is the starch wears off of the product, thus the weave of the fabric
is no longer “feather or down-proof.” Consequently, the feather
and down escape.
Fabrics woven at or above 200 threads per square inch are not produced
in the United States. Thus we have “imported” printed on higher
quality down and feather products indicating that these products surpass
the U.S. federal standard of construction.
In addition, if the thread-count is not indicated and the fill not specified,
more than likely you have purchased a product that is of a lower quality
for down products. For example, if your product indicates that it is “down,”
but does not specify what kind of down, it is more than likely to be of
the lowest quality down. In the same sense, with a feather/down product
if there is no specification as to the type of fill, you probably have
purchased a product that is made using duck down and in some cases duck
feather cut with chicken feather.
The label on all high-quality bedding products establishes the construction
of the product and the quality of fill. Thus, if you are getting a great
price on down inserts, more than likely you are not getting a good quality
Companies that place value in quality and assurance know that customers
will have confidence in what you put inside that beautiful cover and return
to do business with you in the future. Thus, it is crucial to be aware
of such manufacturing practices and to inform and educate your customers
so they will make wise purchasing decisions and choose the high-end down
Three hundred-thread-count fabric on sleep pillows and comforters is a
high-end, high-quality fabric. A 550 to 600 fill-power is exceptional
quality for down, and 750 fill-power is the best quality you can achieve.
However, this high fill-power should only be used in sub-zero temperature
products such as sleeping bags and down jackets for maximum warmth. You
can be sure many department store products are well under 550 fill-power
by virtue of the fact that the fill-power is not provided with the product.
In addition to the warmth of the product is the loft and life you gain
with the higher fill-power down. Thus, the type of fill is vitally important.
Goose down in equal volume to duck down gives you more product for your
purchase. The down cluster in geese is larger and denser than that of
duck. As mentioned earlier, tags printed with the word “down”
do not guarantee that the fill is of the higher quality goose down.
Being well educated on down equips you to sell high-quality products to
your customers. When your customers do not understand down dynamics they
depend upon your expertise in offering them quality product and trust
your judgment in meeting their needs.
Understanding that down is a natural product that breathes helps in assessing
your clients’ sleeping needs. For example, placing a lightweight,
cotton cover on a comforter allows it to breathe, thereby enabling body
heat to escape through the comforter. Therefore, summer-weight comforters
are ideal for use in warm temperatures. Additionally, placing a heavy
cover on a comforter will trap the body heat inside the cover for clients
who prefer more warmth in their sleep.
Carmella McDuff is owner of Carmella Feather
& Down LLC, Prescott, AZ; (928) 778-7082.