An alert reader contacted SNEWS® asking if we knew anything about a seemingly booming trend: down fetishes. Seems our reader had been doing a YouTube search using, innocently enough, the term "down jackets," and the first 10 entries were all related to videos of men and women who like to dress up in down. He told us he was alternately disturbed and amused -- no, we did not ask him how many videos he watched or how long he looked into this fetish thing.
Frankly, at first, we thought he was kidding. But, turns out, after some, ummm, investigative research of our own, what we imagined had to be a weird joke is just plain bizarre. Picture a video of a pasty-white man wearing at first only briefs and a ski mask, and then slipping into down clothing and cuddling up to a down sleeping bag. Creepy. Verrry creepy. One website, www.downfetish.com just launched in September 2009 and registered to someone in Michigan, features a lot of down jackets from The North Face and a woman who likes to dress up in them --not exactly the branding The North Face was hoping for we're sure, but in this recessionary market a sale is a sale, right?
Another site, www.puffycentral.com was established in 2006 and is based in the UK (ya gotta love the Brits for their fetishes). Interestingly, the site has this disclaimer, "The site is created and maintained by Rab…" Either Rab has found another means to market its down jackets, or someone is being a bit cheeky. We suspect Rab, the company, might not be too thrilled with the creative license…then again.
We stopped our investigation there…satisfied that the Internet has yet again brought together something to leave us speechless. It’s amazing what's happened with the web. When brainiacs at the Defense Department first created the ARPANET, you reckon they imagined that it would lead to half-naked people sharing videos of themselves rolling around in down jackets? We’re equally amazed that outdoor gear has been sucked into this strange realm. You think the guy who invented the down parka thought he'd one day satisfy someone's lust for goose feathers? Now, if we start to see down garments at Winter Market with names like The Rab Truss, the Sierra Designs Squeezeme or The North Face TieMeUp, we’ll know the outdoor industry marketing folks are in on it, and ramping up to drive another trend. Until then…consider yourselves warned.