Dude from Silver Linings Playbook in a typical down jacket
Let's face it - most down jackets are ugly beyond belief, on a fashion level somewhere between garbage bags and duct tape. Still, winter is cold and wool coats are heavy. I know that I get sick of lugging a 4lb brick of a coat around town on my back all day no matter how decent it looks. Quality down is made from the insulating feathers of geese, and last time I checked, geese spend most of their time outdoors, sometimes in cold places, mostly without complaints.
Fashion model collapsing under the weight of his own jacket
Down is warm, lightweight, and retains its loft longer than most synthetics. However, not all down is created equal - down is rated by fill power, with higher fill powers insulating better than than lower fill powers of the same weight. A fill power of 600+ is generally considered pretty good, with 800+ for extra lightweight, warm jackets. Goose down generally has higher fill power than duck down.
I found this picture on the internet
I am in no way a down expert, but from my experience, a lot of "fashion" brands will use low quality, low fill down. Uni-Qlo down is pretty decent, and brands that specialize in down, such as Moncler and Duvetica, have had the highest quality from my personal experience. The best bang for your buck if you're just trying to stay warm, however, is still probably technical outerwear from a sporting goods store.
Use this thread to discuss down jackets!!