All about goose down with Enrico Bagetta of Société Nouvelle Interplume!

In this first episode of Maya’s Professional’s webinar series, we hosted Enrico Bagetta, Sales and Business Development Manager of Société Nouvelle Interplume, a major French goose down and feather company. We have compiled the highlights of the webinar in this paper, which discusses a wide range of topics and provides insight into goose down, innovative technologies and its application.

Maya’s Professional, the first and only goose-down washing line company in Turkey and Societé Nouvelle Interplume, a leading name promoting tradition and innovation through a profound knowledge of natural materials and recycling principles, have successfully cooperated for more than 20 years and now join forces to undertake further projects guiding the industry. This first episode of the webinar series covers most frequently asked questions on a wide a range of topics from technical details to ethical sourcing and is here for you to view and enjoy.

Maya’s Professional is an end-to-end business serving its customers for over 25 years. It caters to the needs of tourism and accommodation industry as well as fashion and specific branded products sectors with its sleep products and filling materials. In this webinar series, it is our aim to cover many of the topics that keep the industry’s pulse. In this first ever episode, Fatih Alkan, Director General of the Washing Facility and Integrated Strategy Planning acts as the moderator and takes up questions with one of the most prominent figures in the industry, Enrico Bagetta. Enrico Bagetta completed his education in the UK and worked in the international markets for 27 years. For the past 10 years, he has been the serving Director for International Sales and Business Development at Interplume. He possesses extensive knowledge on feather, goose down and natural fibre and is a member of the EDFA’s technical committee. Highlighting that Maya`s Professional was one of his first clients in the field of goose down, Bagetta describes quality and business continuity as the two pillars of the solid co-operation between two businesses.

Bagetta first delved into the differences between goose down and feather. Stating that “down” is translated as fine avian feather, goose feather or duck feather, he explained how down comes from waterbirds. While birds such as chicken and turkey have feather, down is a layer of fine feathers found under the tougher exterior feathers. The loose structure of down feathers traps air, which helps to insulate the bird against heat loss. Therefore, the difference is also one of function as well. We can see that the goose down clusters expand outwards from their epicentre, displaying a three-dimensional pattern similar to that of snowflakes.

Another question for Bagetta was regarding the difference between goose down, fibre, and trimmed feather and whether they could be used interchangeably. This also touches upon a common consumer misunderstanding: For the end user, all soft filling materials can at first feel or look the same. Bagetta emphasized that everything, including fiber, can be used during production, however there will always be a difference in terms of quality, comfort, insulation capacity and durability. As goose down clusters behave like interconnected fillers and form a chain, they act in solid capacity, perfecting their insulation skills in pillows for example. Thus, goose down is unique and outperforms other feathers and fibres. Another question was on the difference between white and grey. Bagetta explained that the difference is rather insignificant however the latter is mostly deemed to be of lower quality.

a, b, c of high-quality goose down

Referring to the 1 to 7 equation of the European classification system for the composition of filling materials, Bagetta explained that classes 1 and 2 correspond to the highest quality on the scale, with the difference between the two pertaining to the ratio of goose down used. As the rankings go up in scale all the way to 7, quality level goes down.

Another important point detailed with ratios was the concept of ‘fill power’. Fill power was discussed in relation to the insulation and puffiness relationship, different fill materials, cubic inches in the EN9010 specification as well as           impact on product’s weight and cost. Consequently, the disadvantages and consequences of cheap goose down were mathematically demonstrated. While the high-cost perception of high-quality EM90 Class 1 goose down pertains to total value of down and resulting volume of material, it should also be noted that this quality goose down corresponds to 100% output post washing, sterilizing, and extracting. Bagetta indicated that with 60% down standard, ratios work as 60% to 40%, 70% to 30%, 80% to 20%, 90% to 10%, and 100% and that EM90 is priced higher in the market thanks to its quality, insulation and difference resulting from production amount.

Sourcing of goose down

Another topic discussed in detail was sourcing. The topic of ethical sourcing and traceability connection were of interest. Sustainable and ethical sourcing are critical areas in source management and supply chain management in the industry. This includes a range of topics including the need to ensure a safe and good working environment for employees. Bagetta underlined the importance of complying with the CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) regulations within this context.

Stressing the ethical approach towards animals, Bagetta revealed that according to a worldwide study, the industry achieved 81% in terms of continuity and compliance with ethical standards. So how can we tell if a product is ethically sourced? At this point, recycling and/or down and feather-based standards like RDS, GRS, and Down Pass certificates were mentioned to guide us through.

GRS, which stands for Global Recycle Standard, is a product standard created to track and validate the content of recycled materials in final product. Applicable to the entire supply chain, this standard covers a wide range of business processes, including traceability, environmental principles, social needs, chemical content, and labelling. Procurement departments of ethically sourcing companies use either at least 20% goose down or 60-100% recycled goose down and other recycled components.

Two prominent material certificates from the USA and Europe are RDS (Responsible Down Standard) and Down Pass Certification respectively. Both are commonly used and highly regarded by the industry and have similar steps in terms of product certification. RDS and Down Pass certificates, which primarily cover animal welfare, monitor the fulfillment of specific principles for specific steps from procurement to end delivery. The main condition for these certificates is to certify that feathers are not sourced from living animals. They also seek to ensure animal welfare — with low stocking density, non-caged farming and access to fresh water and high-quality feed. Animals are not farmed for their feathers: they are reared for the food industry and goose down or duck feather are essentially by-products. While Europe is completely free of live plucking, live plucking is estimated to constitute 1 to 8% of the total numbers elsewhere in the world. Animal rights advocates and the industry are fighting against this. It is critical that the treatment of animals adheres to standards during animal husbandry and that all steps are transparent and traceable.

Goose down: Natural, sustainable, hygienic, and environmentally friendly

What is the benefit of goose down and why do we need goose down products? The answer to these questions is simple and striking. Benefits are numerous: Goose down and bird feather are natural, sustainable, low-impact, hygienic and totally sterilized, and they have 95% less environmental impact than polyester and fibre.

In the webinar, Bagetta also explained the warranty conditions of the products filled with goose down.  The goose-down filling material is among the longest-lasting products. Particularly in bedding, durability is 3 to 5 times higher than other filling materials.

The Webinar also sought to provide tips on goose down maintenance. Bagetta says labels often lack sufficient information on washing and maintenance. Consumers who aim for long-term use of their goose down pillows should aim to launder the product in a washing cycle at least once or twice a year. A standard washing program should be used with temperature capped at 40 degrees Celsius, with 3 tennis balls tossed in the machine to prevent clumping. The item can then be dried in the dryer, with the tennis balls, for 3 to 4 hours and until it is fully dry and lump-free.

Emerged in Britain in 1920s, the top value concept, which end-users often hear, refers to the creation of a machine to measure the insulation strength of the products. Bed makers use this system as the final segment and products are classified with triple coding, passing heat tests with certain programs and index numbers. Today, the index to which respected global mattress makers such as Maya’s Professional are subject to, is particularly relevant as an indication of insulation strength.

The fact that Maya’s Professional has a processing facility with washing, drying and sterilizing machines in the production line distinguishes it in terms of sourcing, Bagetta explains, so the manufacturer can be free to choose materials and craft a very special quality, meeting the market`s needs. Answering questions about husbandry during the Webinar’s final minutes, Bagetta addressed key elements such as institutional integrity, processing, and transparency. Explaining that Interplum’s supply chain is open to visitors, Bagetta stressed the importance and significance of the 20+ years of collaboration between Maya and Interplum with their shared vision on quality-focused production of goose down and bird feather.

We thank Enrico Bagetta for his participation in the first episode of our webinar series, shedding light on some intricate details of the industry.

Stay tuned for more insight to follow in future episodes!