Puffer jackets: The price of staying warm

Puffer jackets: The price of staying warm
Image: Photo by Eric Helgas, art direction by Alex Citrin-Safadi
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Puffer jackets have been worn by outdoorsmen, rappers, the military, luxury shoppers, and—eventually—everyone. Today, the market is still heating up.

But as puffer jackets are worn by more people around the world, the difference between high- and low-end options can be increasingly difficult to parse. Are North Face jackets worth their price tag? Does “puffiness” automatically equal warmth? What do puffers from Prada and Uniqlo have in common?

Podcast host Kira Bindrim and membership editor Alexandra (Alex) Ossola investigate how a functional piece of outerwear also became a fashion craze.

Sponsored by Alumni Ventures

Listen on: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google | Stitcher


Kira Bindrim is the host of the Quartz Obsession podcast. She is an executive editor who works on global newsroom coverage and email products. She is obsessed with reading and reality TV.

Alexandra (Alex) Ossola is the membership editor at Quartz and the executive producer of the Quartz Obsession podcast. She is obsessed with baking, Korean dramas, mental health, and her cats.

Show notes

Evening jacket (a.k.a. pneumatic coat) designed by Charles James, 1937

George Finch’s Everest puffer, 1922

Eddie Bauer’s Blizzard-Proof Jacket a.k.a. the Skyliner and 1940 patent

Responsible Down Standard

Fill power

Norma Kamali’s sleeping bag coat, 1973

The Notorious B.I.G, “Party and bullshit” (1993), “Dead wrong” (1999)

Why is a good puffer so hard to find? FT, 2021

Drake, “Hotline bling” and subsequent memes

Brandy, “Baby” (1994)

Missy Elliott, “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)” (1997)

DMX, “What’s my name” (1999)

2016 Balenciaga A-line swing coat

Vladimir Putin’s eiderdown puffer

This episode uses the following sounds from freesound.org and SoundCloud:
New York Street Ambience.wav by lazymonk
car passing by.wav by brunobegot
Water Puddle Splash by cookies+policy
ice drill pull out of hole gushy splash with slush and snow nice detail.wav by kyles
shovelling_snow.flac by lorenzosu

Read the full transcript, or a lightly edited version.