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Pondering The Puffer

The puffer jacket is one of those winter accessories that has slithered its way onto the coat hangers and catwalks of 2017.

Eddie Bauer patented the coat in 1940. He created the design of down feathers enveloped in fabric a few years prior after suffering a bout of hypothermia. And now, following peaks of popularity through the decades, it’s back. Either there are a lot of people struggling with chills just like Eddie or the amount of coverage the style of coat has had, most significantly on social media platforms, means that the design has become a staple in high fashion and high street.

Before this season, the fashion community didn’t generally accept puffers. They were saved for roadmen or shunned to the style peripheries along with a pair of Uggs and maybe some Crocs to keep them company. But now, it’s literally all I see. Every other gal I see on Instagram has a candid shot of her with a puffer zipped up to the top and resembling something like the shape of a snowball.

The real dilemma I’m facing is – do I want a puffer because they’re fluffy and warm and practical or do I want a puffer because I keep seeing them all over social media? If I’m honest, it’s most likely the latter of the two. Mostly because I distinctly remember, in the winter of ’14, taking the piss out of my mate’s puffer. I was questioning why on earth she wanted to leave the house looking like she was wearing a sleeping bag in jacket form. It baffled me. And it still sorta does.

I’d seen this puffer on Urban Outfitters, you know, that puffer. They sell it in all the colours of the rainbow, namely in a bright red or earthy green. I was one click and a serious dent to my bank balance away from purchasing my puffer/sleeping bag until my mate @’d me on the @thatpuffa account on Instagram.

That’s the problem when something so distinctive becomes fashionable. It’s easy to spot them in the crowd. Which is exactly what @thatpuffa has realised. The account specialises in spotting people in that Urban Outfitters puffer jacket, and strives to find more than one of that puffer in a group. It’s like the Gossip Girl account for feather down jackets. Although, I’m not sure anyone on the Upper East Side would be seen dead in a puffer jacket. Maybe Lonely Boy, but he wore corduroys too, so he obviously isn’t a good judge of style.

I think it’s true to say that social media has changed many aspects of consumption in general, and fashion trends aren’t excluded from that. Fashion mags are no longer to sole purveyors of style and the new ‘hot’ list isn’t seen on a monthly basis printed on the pages of a glossy. Trends are sprawled on Instagram’s discover page, the latest pieces have been gifted to vloggers and reviewed the same day in a YouTube vid and fashion week news and styles are trending on Twitter before they can even be published in an online article due to the instantaneity of social media. It’s a bit of a beautiful burden really.

Social channels have created so many more avenues for people to express creativity, fashion design and it has allowed designers to create new brands that are accessible to a larger audience than ever before. But is social media killing the uniqueness of fashion if, at the end of the day, everyone is dressed the same?

One of the best things about fashion is that you have the ability to be anything you desire, dress however you please and come up with your very own way to wear pieces. But if a crimson red puffer completes every outfit you put on, you’re always going to look the same. And the same as that other girl you just walked past on the tube… And that’s kinda sad. I mean, you wouldn’t want to see yourself on @thatpuffa after being unknowingly snapped, would you? Thought not.

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Words by Eliza Frost

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