I had an opportunity to buy my first proper winter down jacket a few weeks back.
I was raised in a country which is sunny all year round. We get rain in some months, but temperature never dips below 23 degree celsius.
Tourists love our country. It’s summer all year round. They say it felt like time froze (hmm, froze in a sunny weather). And for most, spending Christmas in a warm country is a rare experience.
I have experienced winter when travelling, but because those are relatively short holidays of 2-3 weeks, I can pretty much get back without a proper winter jacket.
Winter jackets that I have bought are from Uniqlo and Zara, costing around USD$100 – USD$200. Fairly reasonable price. Keeps me warm enough if I add a few layers beneath.
And last year I had the chance to work in a country where there are 4 season., and stay throughout winter.
So I was excited about shopping for something I have not properly shopped before.
And I was shocked at the price for a high quality version
Well, a down jacket with 100% down feather, without artificial fillers usually cost upwards of USD$500. And that’s for mid-length. To go for longer length towards your knees, a design with nice cutting that keeps you warm at the same time, be prepared to spend over $1k.
Yea that’s probably the price you already know if you are a frequent winter jacket buyer, but not me, whose more expensive jacket purchase is around $200.
After getting over the shock, I went around checking out the design and fill ratio in retail malls and also online.
Regular sportswear shops like Nike and Adidas sell them for $150-$200. Quite standard price, but the fill ratio is pretty low at 10-20%. Which means that you won’t really be warm. Which means that the filler will likely break down, which makes you even colder and you will need to get another one next year. Which is fine if style and a different design every year is your thing.
North Face sells some cool stuff as well. Price ranges from $500-$800, and apparently they are filled with 100% down. So that’s a good start. And you will look like a true adventurer ready to climb some mountains.
And then I was told about Mooseknuckle, a Canadian company. Well parts of Canada has some of the harshest winter on Earth, so I guess their winter jackets must be of good quality. Which also comes at a crazy price of over $1k as well.
So before I continue, let me state that I was doing the shopping in Seoul – one of the fashion capital in the world. The city is populated with extremely wealthy folks who give no qualms about buying top quality stuff. Dressing well is a must. I might have exaggerate a little but you get the point.
Foreign brands mark up their price in such cities. To cover for the import costs, and probably also to create a prestige image. And it is working very well.
Oh and, Koreans refer to these jackets as Paddings. So if you are shopping for a winter jacket in Korea, ask for Paddings. Now you speak their language, maybe you will get a discount 🙂
Paddings are the craze in Korea recently, made popular by all the KPop stars. Which explains the sky high price.
So anyway, Mooseknuckle introduced me into the world of crazily expensive winter fashion, and a quick Google Search (or Naver Search in Korea) will reveal that two of the competitors are Moncler and Canada Goose.
Somehow, after reading about these brands and their prices, I was desensitised to the price and was prepared to buy from one of them, justifying that they are 100% down, looks good, are made of a good quality and will last me for years. Which I believe it. I did end up buying one, and whether I regret it or not depends on the time of the day. But it does keep me warm and it looks good too.
As mentioned, I have done lots of reading before splashing crazy money on a jacket, so allow me to give you a quick summary of my learnings, if you are thinking of buying one of these.
Very functional. Keeps you warm. Apparently very popular in Canada (according to what I read, that majority of the people and kids own one). General the lowest cost of the three brands (thought it is still pretty expensive). Design wise, it is perhaps less stylish than the other two. Good choice if you just want to stay warm and wants a value-for-money option that you won’t feel bad getting snow and dirt on.
One of its design achieved the highest score among winter jackets that has the best insulation. Slightly more expensive and has more interesting design than Canada Goose (though it really depends on location). Ideal for those who wants to differentiate themselves from the Canada Goose population.
Ultra stylish designs with an ultra stylish price. The ultimate status symbol. Popular designs will be long gone before winter even starts. Be prepared to queue to get into the shops. Ideal for strutting around town in style. They look really good. The good designs at least. Some designs have huge logo in contrasting colour. Go for those with small subtle black logos. Not sure if you want to wear it for ski trips though. Probably you should get a Moncler for walking around in town, and a Canada Goose / Moose Knuckle for outdoor adventures.
And there we have it – the three popular, aspirational winter jacket brands. Buy one and wear it for the next ten year. Until you tell yourself the same time next winter and spend $1k+ on a new design again.