The down and feather industry can trace its roots back hundreds of years and in countries the world over. Indigenous peoples of North America used them in sacred ceremonies and as early as 3,000 BC, a precursor of the featherbed was used in China.
As a natural fiber and a byproduct of the food industry, down and feathers have been traded internationally among producing, manufacturing and consuming countries for centuries. In fact, it was a global industry long before the term was commonly used.
Recognizing that this global network of trade partnerships was cumbersome in the post-World War II era of change and realignment, in 1952 a small group of feather merchants gathered in Paris with the intent of better organizing their industry by establishing basic standards, definitions, and rules of trade. To facilitate this effort, they established the International Committee of Arbitration for Feathers in 1953, which was re-founded in 1958 as the International Feather Bureau, and later renamed to its current name: The International Down and Feather Bureau.
Earliest record of a down duvet in China
A handmade duvet was recorded in “Bei Hu Lu”, written by Duan Gonglu, Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD).
The text translates: “In south of China, people use goose down and feather for duvets. The soft plumage is harvested and steamed before filled in fabric. Its softness is as good as cotton. The duvet makes the child sleep peacefully. ”
Growth of the Industry
Military Commissions Led the Way
- The U.S. Army Air Force commissioned parkas for its pilots during World War II. The U.S. Army commissioned down sleeping bags as standard military equipment for soldiers during the Korean War.
- In China, the uniform jackets made after the Cultural Revolution were comprised of down and feather.
Benefits of Down and Feather Expand Its Use
- The first down jacket was patented in 1940 by Eddie Bauer who nearly died from hypothermia some years before on a winter fishing trip. In the 1950s and 1960s Eddie Bauer became THE brand for skiers and extreme mountaineering groups.
- In 1964 Sir Terence Conran introduces down and feather duvets to England from Scandinavian countries.
- In the 1970s, the outdoor industry explodes around the world creating demand for parkas, mittens, hats, sleeping bags, tents.
The Fashion Industry Embraces
- Throughout the 1970s, early adopters make down clothing trendy in cities.
- In 1978, the first ladies’ down coat walks down the runway of the Bill Blass fashion show.
Turning Point for the Down and Feather Industry
In 1978 an influential US retail group has been revealed of mislabeling almost all of their down products. A chain reaction within the industry regarding correct product labeling started. In its course, the traditional culture of the feather expert evolved into a culture that focused on science, combined with industry and product knowledge.
IDFB has been and continues to be the global trade organization for the down and feather industry where all member countries have a voice and a seat at the table.
|1966||Monte Carlo, France|
|1982||Frankfurt am Main, Germany|
|1974||Bad Schachen, Germany|
|1975||Prague, Czech Republic|
|1980||Baden by Vienna, Austria|
|1981||New York, USA|
|1982||Frankfurt am Main, Germany|
|1983||Monte Carlo, France|
|1991||Prague, Czech Republic|
|2000||Las Vegas, USA|
|2001||Prague, Czech Republic|
|2006||Park City, USA|
|2009||Cape Town, South Africa|
|2011||Los Cabos, Mexico|
|2014||San Francisco, USA|
|2017||New Orleans, USA|
|2020 & 2021||Virtual Meetings|