.Michael de la Place
The famous eider down is known throughout the world for its peculiar characteristics which have made it one of the most sought after and expensive in the world. Lightness, durability, delicacy, these and other peculiarities derive directly from the environment in which the eider lives, but how can a simple sea duck produce one of the rarest materials in the world? Let's look at his story together.
What is the eider?
The eider duck is a sea duck whose scientific name, Somateria Mollissima , suggests one of its most important characteristics, in fact “Mollissima” derives from Latin and means "very soft", in reference to the soft plumage.
The feathers of the eider are not only soft, but also very resistant and insulate from the cold air, which is why the females detach them from their chest to line the nests in which they will then lay their eggs. The little chicks thus grow up safe and above all warm, without the cold arctic winds being able to harm them, and then take flight once weaning is complete. It is at that moment that the nests are abandoned by the family unit and the feathers can be collected.
Eiders and man
For hundreds of years the farmers of Norway and other northern regions have lived in close contact with these ducks, even creating small shelters for them to help them resist the harsh climate; the final collection of their feathers has always been the reward for the care dedicated to these ducks. The use of this "noble" plumage to stuff duvets has therefore long been part of the culture of these communities who, like chicks, need it to protect themselves from the cold.
A symbiotic and familiar relationship has thus been created between humans and eiders, so much so that it is possible to caress these animals, even while they are in their nests.
However, since 1848 eiders have been a protected species and live in natural reserves, which is also why there are no breeding facilities, but only protected breeding areas.
The reason for the rarity of eiderdown feathers is, in fact, the absence of breeding and the need for a cruelty-free collection process , i.e. without harming the animal.
The feathers are collected only when the nests are abandoned, by specialists who climb the cliffs where eiders like to nest. It is estimated that each nest contains around 20 grams of feathers and between 2200 kg and 2300 kg can be collected every year. An average duvet weighs 1 kg, so 60 nests are needed to stuff just one.
The characteristics of feathers
The first thing that catches your eye when you see eider feathers is that they do not resemble the feathers we are used to knowing, on the contrary, they are more like small balls of brown cotton. This particular aspect is due to the size of the single feather, which corresponds to a fraction of a human hair, and to the peculiar presence of microscopic, almost invisible hooked structures, which hold everything together, also naturally creating a compact blanket.
Since eiders have evolved to resist harsh arctic climates, their feathers are able to thermally insulate from both cold and heat by creating tiny air pockets that still allow transpiration.
Characteristics that make eiderdown duvets famous are also their incredible softness and delicacy, perfect for cuddling while sleeping.
Our eiderdown duvets