Craze for Long Padded Bench Coats Finally Dead

  • By Byun Hee-won

    December 17, 2020 11:45

    The long and incomprehensible craze for North Face bench coats that look like sleeping bags is finally coming to an end after nearly a decade of straining wallets up and down the land.

    It had been going on for nearly a decade since the long padded down coats became a must-have item among teens in 2011. Their high price tag earned them the nickname "back-breaker" because of the money parents had to fork out or risk seeing their children ostracized.

    But now, just like that, they will all be tossed aside and replaced with shorter waist-length jackets and any number of more fetching styles. In bad news for parents, the current must-have brands are Canada Goose and Moncler, which are even more expensive than North Face.

    There is a glimmer of hope -- warmer winters have reduced demand, and many consumers seem to have realized the futility of shelling out so much money for a coat of any length. Some fashionistas now insist that nobody can possibly look good in a padded anorak anyway and something altogether sleeker is required.

    Because there is an expert for everything, the International Organization for Standardization has decreed that people must wear hooded down parkas, double-layered pants, thermal underwear, sweaters and wool gloves in any region where winter temperatures fall below -20 degrees Celsius.

    But the average temperature in Korea in January from 1981 to 2010 was only -1.6 to -0.4 degrees. That means they are spared the rigors of Siberia and can wear what they want without consulting the IOS.

    Help comes from another expert, Lee Joo-young at Seoul National University, who has studied the remarkable ability of the famous elderly women divers of Jeju Island known as "haenyo" to adjust their bodies to freezing temperatures.

    She compared them to fragile young city women by measuring how their blood vessels expand in their fingertips and found that the elderly women divers were far more capable of withstanding cold. "They developed the ability to control their body temperatures for decades when they dive into the icy water in winter," Lee said. In other words, big fat padded coats only make their wearers more sensitive to the cold.

    Then there is the question of how the down fathers are harvested, which is alarming for animal rights activists.

    Canada Goose and Moncler use down from the chest, abdomen, neck and wings of ducks and geese, and demand is waning because the feathers are plucked while the poor birds are still alive.

    Instead, this season is all about fake fur, fake leather and hairy retro tweeds. There is even an Italian clothing brand called Save the Duck.

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