• allied feather + down  

Because not all down is created equally, it is important to understand how subtle differences in processing can make a significant difference in performance and longevity.

Many vendor sourced suppliers will process down extremely quickly and with harsh chemicals to get the material as clean as possible as quickly as possible in order to offer material cheaper. While this might provide a cheaper material for less expensive fast fashion products, these products will not perform as well or last as long as material processed correctly. There can also be a risk of contamination of down with PFAS which has implications for both the product and the environment where these chemicals are applied.


First, down has the potential to be amongst the lowest environmental impact of any material used in the entire apparel industry, but washing with harsh chemicals not only leaves traces of PFAS, but unnecessarily harms the local environments where these chemicals are used. Further, any material now run through these facilities will certainly show signs of PFAS for decades to come.

The harsh chemicals may get the down clean quite quickly, but they are also likely to strip the protein of the fat and oils needed to retain resiliency and return to loft after compression. The down may look fine in the garment on the rack, but a single season will often reduce the majority of this type of processed down to fiber – losing loft and warmth. Properly processed down should last for decades.


Again, how the down is handled through the drying process can greatly affect the fat and oil on the protein the same way harsh chemicals can. In order to save money, suppliers will push hundreds of kilograms of down through extremely hot driers in order to cut down the overall processing time. What one is left with is either down with all the fat and oils burned off or material that is inconsistently dried that will cause issues such as mold while the down is stored and prepared for manufacturing.

It is critical to not only understand where your down has come from for animal welfare concerns, but also in how it was processed so you can rest assured that your down product will last a lifetime and has a significantly lower environmental impact than a synthetic alternative.

durawash down cluster details

At ALLIED, we have always said that not all down is created equal. And what allows down to become such an incredible insulation lies in how the material was processed. Down can be sourced from some of the best – and even certified – farms, but how it is further processed is the difference between cheap down and feathers and a high quality, technical, sustainable and durable insulation.

Down is comprised of beta-keratin, which is a protein extremely similar to our human hair. When down is processed, it needs to be treated in a way that provides the necessary cleanliness, but while still retaining a precise amount of the natural fat and oil so that it retains its resiliency so it can take years of extreme compression and still loft back to its full potential to provide warmth and comfort. There is a lot of cheaper down sourced in the market that might even come with RDS certification, but that has been processed with harsh chemicals, bleach and dried extremely fast. While this may save a small percentage in cost, the insulation may provide clean test results and even look good in the garment right away. But after just a little use, this harsh processing will have taken its toll and the product will quickly start to lose its loft as the now brittle clusters quickly degrade into fiber.

This type of processing is also usually accompanied by the use of harsh chemicals that have extremely detrimental impacts on their local environments. The current down standards do not incorporate any form of chemical management so it is important to not only know where your down came from, but how it has been processed.

ALLIED has developed a proprietary processing method called DURAWASH which has long led the industry in sustainable processing and stands as the benchmark of cleanliness as tested by an independent third party laboratory. The DURAWASH processing is incredibly complex and consists of no less than 13 stages that includes constantly being run through magnets to pick up any impurities, unique drying chambers that ensure we do not overheat the down, vortices that help to reduce additional residue and filter out the finest clusters and proprietary dedusting bins to ensure only the purest down is shipped. The DURAWASH process also incorporates a complex water filtration system to ensure we are able to recycle all the water we use. Part of this filtration is a purification which helps soften all water so minimal detergents can be used. The detergents ALLIED uses have been developed with our long time bluesign® chemical partner to precisely clean the down with no harm to the environment.

In 2018, ALLIED was only the fourth company in the US to earn Palm Oil Free Certification

[ AFD-Manufacturing ]

Cleanliness, alongside fill power, is another important qualitative measurement currently used for down and measured through turbidity and oxygen tests.

Clean down is incredibly important in that most people that have experienced an allergic reaction to down products are not reacting to the down itself, but dust and other allergens that can be present in unclean down. Clean down will also perform the best, realizing its warmth to weight potential.


Turbidity testing measures the amount of “dirt” that remains on the down after washing. A given amount down is submerged in a predetermined amount of distilled water and agitated according to the standards protocol. The down is strained out and the water is transferred to a large tube with a marker inside. The turbidity represents the volume of water present that still allows for a clear reading of the mark. If the mark can not be read through more than 200mm of water, it would represent quite dirty material still and have significantly cloudy water present. But if the water is clear and the mark can still be read after 1000mm of water is filled in the cylinder, it would represent extremely clean material.

Any measurement beyond 500mm is considered hypoallergenic. ALLIED material almost always registers beyond 1000mm where the testing stops.


Following the turbidity testing, the water used for that test is then subjected to oxygen testing in which it is determined how much organic matter remains in that water. Measurements are in 1.6 unit increments because that represents the volume of a droplet of agent used to determine the result. The more drops of the agent required to clear the liquid, the more organic matter is present. Anything under 10 is considered acceptable by the industry, but ALLIED material is almost always at 1.6.

It’s important to note, however, that it still does not take into account fat and oil content which means one can use harsh chemicals to get the down very clean initially, but do so by stripping the fat and oil from the down cluster resulting in a “clean” down, but one that will break down very quickly. There is a reason ALLIED’s DuraWASH process involves so many steps and why we have extremely precise measurements for fat and oil we need to maintain in order to offer a high quality and long lasting insulation.

Many people can have reactions to down and down-filled products, but it likely has nothing to do with being allergic to down itself.

While down allergies do exist, they are extremely rare. Down is a protein that almost exactly mimics the composition of our hair. For one to truly be allergic to down, they would likely be allergic to many other common things such as hair and all feathers and fur.

In almost all instances, what a person is reacting to is down that is not clean. As a natural product, it is subject to the growth of mold and bacteria. Down can also easily break down into dust and attracts dust mites and other much more common allergens.

This is why it is important to understand where and how the down inside your products was processed. There is a qualitative difference in the down inside jackets priced hundreds of dollars apart. This cheaper quality down was likely processed with aggressive chemicals which are harmful to the environment and not properly de-dusted. This cheaper down can inherently contain more allergens.

It is also properly to keep your down products clean and washed regularly. Down that is not cleaned can develop allergens as well creating reactions in users that assume they are allergic to the down.