Since the beginning of human kind, people have used natural fibers like wool, furs, leathers, and down to stay warm. But like everything else that has happened in the last two centuries, technology has a way of changing the way we live, particularly in the way we dress. Because of technology and innovation, we now have synthetic fibers to keep us warm. Whether they are better, warmer or lighter are questions many of my clients keep asking me.
In all honesty, synthetic fibers do have a role in our day to day apparel. Coats or jackets made with synthetic fibers are (for the most part) lighter than your down filled coat. In addition, there are no allergic issues with synthetic fibers, whereas with down filled coats, there is a small percentage of the population that is allergic and cannot wear them.
The other advantage of down filled coats is that they are consistent throughout the entire fabric. This is important for warmth reasons. Because of this feature, there are usually less seems on the coat; Seams on a coat let the air pass through, therefore the fewer seams – the warmer the coat. (Of course, this depends on the style) With down filled coats, you have to make small pockets to keep the down together, or else it will eventually move downwards because of gravity.
However, there are a few drawbacks with synthetic fibers. Mainly due to environmental concerns since synthetic fibers is a petroleum by-product. They are not biodegradable such as leather, wool or down. In simple words, they have a significant carbon footprint. Furthermore, synthetic fibers are always consistent and uniform. There’s no originality to the fabric. Every fabric that gets pump out is identical.
In conclusion, I can’t really say which ones are better because it’s really a matter of personal choice. If you are looking for something light, and you don’t really care about your carbon footprint, then coats made out of synthetic fibers are a good and obvious choice. However, if originality is your thing, and you prefer fabrics that are more in tune with nature, then down filled jackets or other natural fibers should be something to look at more closely.