Patagonia Inc. (American, founded 1973)
Jacket, ca. 2015
White polyester ripstop plain weave
To prepare for the 1922 British Mount Everest expedition, invited chemist and mountaineer, George Finch, created the “eiderdown coat” constructed from hot air balloon fabric, which protected him from the extreme climate conditions. By the mid-1930s, adventurer Eddie Bauer, achieved the first patented down-filled jacket, commonly known as the “puffer.” His quilted functional outer jacket and encased feather filling allowed for the retention of warm air. The puffer grew in popularity during the 1940s among outdoor enthusiasts, and brands like Patagonia Inc., crafted their own versions of these technical jackets, like the example displayed here.
Norma Kamali (American, Born 1945)
“Sleeping Bag” coat, 2022
Black nylon plain weave
Courtesy Norma Kamali
The “puffer” coat has its sartorial roots in explorer’s wear and sporting wear. Its quilted outer layer and insulated filling provides technical advantage for outdoor activities. This construction method also allows for a unique range of designs and surface patterns. Norma Kamali’s “Sleeping Bag” coat helped contribute to the style’s reemergence in the 1970s. Originally designed in 1973, it was inspired by a camping trip in which Kamali wrapped herself in a sleeping bag. The reimagined coat features the NASA method for warmth with two coats sewn together and filled with a synthetic down alternative. Functionally, the air pockets created by this construction provide an environment for body heat to be exchanged with the external cold air. The fashion puffer is closely tied to developments in textile technology but has also come to define an evolving image of coolness.