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Could Bison Insulation be the Future of Sustainable Outerwear?

Sustainable outdoor and lifestyle brand, United By Blue, has launched a collection of puffer jackets made with the hollow and compactable hairs of North American bison.

United By Blue has a unique approach to attracting consumers concerned with environmental issuesfor every product purchased from the organization, it will remove a pound of trash from the world’s oceans and waterways. Considering bison fibers are typically considered a waste product and discarded by the ranching industry, the company expects its newest innovation to complement those same efforts by providing an alternative to less ethical or sustainable insulation materials.

“We don’t use duck or goose down at United By Blue for this very reason. Despite progress in traceability, the down industry’s live plucking practices remain too controversial to consider a viable option,” Brian Linton, United By Blue’s founder & CEO, said. “We ventured into the world of synthetic insulation, but were never able to find something we could truly stand behind both technically and environmentally. Our only solution was to create something entirely new.”

This new composite material for sustainable apparel, which the company calls B1000 insulation, is technically a blend of natural and manmade fibers, comprising roughly 50 percent North American Bison fiber and 50 percent recycled polyester. United By Blue says it spent five years intercepting and repurposing the supply chain for bison fibers for use in its products, which had the fortunate side effect of keeping the material out of the landfills where it would normally end up.

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The end product is a jacket that is hypoallergenic, lightweight and can regulate temperatures effectively in environments that can reach temperatures as low as freezing, according to United By Blue. The bison fibers and polyester are also quilted into baffles, which United By Blue says will keep the material from settling and disfiguring over time. Additional features in the jacket include a YKK zipper, an internal storm flap, fleece-lined pockets, elastic cuffing and an interior phone pocket with a built-in headphone port.

The Bison Collection Puffer Jacket is available for both men and women at United By Blue retail locations in Philadelphia and New York City, as well on the United By Blue website, starting at $188.

“The Bison Puffer Jacket is the most sustainable down alternative jacket we have ever produced,” said United By Blue product designer Brendan Rauth. “Incorporating lighter weight and higher performance recycled and natural materials, the bison puffer raises the bar for not just bison-insulated outerwear, but sustainable outerwear.”

United By Blue also announced the closing of Series A financing last week. The round was led by Emil Capital Partners and included contributions from CircleUp, Connected CV, Golda Darty and Patient Capital collaborative among others. The Philadelphia-based brand will use the influx of capital to continue to support innovative supply chain practices, new product development and digital and wholesale distribution in North America and Europe.