Winter is in full swing in South Africa, and the puffer jacket is having a real fashion moment right now. In South Africa, the puffer jacket of choice is K-Way’s down puffer jacket. The uniform of Constantia housewives and soccer moms across the country, these puffers are everywhere. You can’t go to a mall in South Africa without seeing at least 5 families all decked out in matching K-Way puffer jackets and jeans. But do K-way’s down puffer jackets live up to the hype and the price tag?
I love a good bargain, and I’m always shopping around to find the things I want and need at the best price. But, I’m also a big believer in ‘you get what you pay for’. For years, I’ve been toying with investing in a K-Way down puffer jacket, but the R1,500 price tag had me second-guessing making the commitment. It’s not that I didn’t trust the K-Way brand and quality, heck I own 2 K-Way Softshell jackets (which are the best thing since sliced bread), as well as too many K-Way fleece tops to count. But, I was convinced that I could find a similar down jacket at a better price elsewhere. So, I spent R800 on a down jacket from a well-known online store.
It didn’t take long for me to realise why this bargain-buy down puffer was half the price of its K-Way counterpart. As lovely as it looked, wearing the jacket came with compromises. It was constantly shedding feathers and fluff, which meant wearing it over a black T-shirt or jersey was out of the question. This thing shed more than my Labrador retriever, and that’s not easy to do. While it was quite comfortable, my no-name down puffer wasn’t nearly as warm as I’d hoped it would be and the down was constantly shifting around in the jacket, making it a nightmare to wash. But, still even living with this mediocre-at-best jacket, I convinced myself that down puffer jackets just weren’t as amazing as everyone made out.
What is fill power & why does it matter?
But, then the lovelies at Cape Union Mart hooked me up with a K-Way Swan ’18 Down Jacket to review, and a lightbulb went off. It’s pretty clear that South Africans have a love affair with K-Way’s down puffer jackets. And, after spending a few weeks living in one (no really, I’ve basically only taken it off to sleep at night), it’s easy to understand the obsession. After just a few hours wearing the K-Way Swan the superior quality of the K-Way down puffer was glaringly obvious.
First off, it’s beyond comfortable. I’m talking, wearing a duvet in public comfortable. Wearing a K-Way down puffer is like being hugged by a giant marshmallow. The jacket is stuffed with the finest quality down to keep you warm and toasty in even the coldest conditions. K-Way’s Swan ’18 down jacket boasts a fill power of 650, offering the consumer peace of mind that it’s well worth its price tag. Fill power indicates the quality of the down used in the jacket and measures how much space the same weight of different quality down clusters will fill. The more space the down clusters take up, the higher the fill power. A higher fill power number shows that the down can trap more air, providing a better “warmth to weight ratio”. Fill power usually starts at around 300 (low quality) and can go up to 900, which is considered suitable for extreme freezing conditions.
K-Way’s down jackets are all 650 fill power or higher, and the brand also ensures that all the duck down used to manufacture the jackets is ethically sourced from reliable and responsible suppliers. A by-product of poultry, down is made from the feathers of geese and ducks and is considered a sustainable, biodegradable, renewable resource with a low carbon footprint. In addition to having a high fill power, the K-Way Swan is also a 90/10 rated product — which means the jacket contains 90% down and 10% feathers. The higher the down percentage, the better the quality of the down jacket. Another feel-good factor about K-Way’s down jackets is that they’re manufactured locally at K-Way’s factory in Ottery, Cape Town.
K-Way Swan ’18 down jacket tried & tested:
When I first put on the K-Way Swan ’18 jacket, I was surprised at how thin and light it felt. Weighing just 240 grams (size small), it’s uber-lightweight and highly compressible, and you would be forgiven for being sceptical that it could keep you warm but boy does it deliver. It’s been bitterly cold in Cape Town over the last few weeks and my K-Way down jacket has been an absolute saviour. It’s an incredible insulator and is one of the best ways to protect yourself from cold weather outdoors.
I’ve been wearing it when walking the dog, hiking, going to gym, and even around the house to keep warm. Even better, if you start to get too hot when wearing it, the jacket easily squashes down to fit into a small bag that fits into your handbag or backpack with ease. When squashed up the jacket doesn’t take up very much space at all. It can be compressed down to the size of a small ball, making it a winner for travelling and outdoor activities when you don’t want the hassle of carrying a jacket but need one on hand at all times.
The jacket has two deep outer hand zip pockets and a single internal pocket, which are all very handy for storing things like your phone, wallet, keys, etc. The jacket comes with a little bag that it can be squashed up into, but if you forget that at home then it is also packable into the large internal pocket.
The jacket is made with 20D 380T Micro Ripstop fabric which also feels super soft and luxurious against your skin. This nylon-based fabric is made using a special reinforcing technique, which makes it resistant to tearing and ripping. Consequently, it has a favourable strength-to-weight ratio and ensures that small tears won’t spread easily. The shell is also 100 percent windproof and vapour-permeable (breathable) and a WR coating provides the fabric with water repellency for rainy days. Elasticated cuffs and hem work to further windproof the jacket and there’s a wind-stop baffle system behind the front zip. Basically, no matter where you are, this jacket will keep you warm and snug, and looking good too.
Is it worth the splurge?
The K-Way Swan ’18 down puffer jacket is exclusive to Cape Union Mart, retailing for R1,499. It may sound like a pretty penny, but considering what you get for that price it is actually exceptionally good value for money! It is the warmest and most comfortable jacket I have ever worn and, in my opinion, is an absolutely essential item for anyone who likes to spend time outdoors during the winter months. K-Way’s down puffer jackets are undoubtedly an investment and if properly taken care of will last you for years to come. Cape Union Mart recommends washing your jacket with Storm Down Wash, making sure that its quality isn’t compromised, and your jacket stays in tip-top condition.
The Swan ’18 is an incredible garment that is not only functional but stylish too. The jacket comes in a wide range of colours including Flamingo pink, Indigo, Silver, Watermelon red, Light Pink, Navy, Cloud Blue, Plum, and classic Black. I opted for the light Cloud Blue jacket rather than the classic black and have been loving it as a way to add a pop of colour to my winter wardrobe.
Plus, with its lightweight look and feel, you get all the practical benefits of wearing a super warm down puffer jacket while still being able to maintain a slim silhouette. With the K-Way puffer, you don’t have to go full Michelin Man. I opted for a small because it looked well fitted, but was worried it would be too small, or I wouldn’t be able to fit thick jerseys underneath. But that hasn’t been the case at all. While the jacket looks fitted, it has plenty of wiggle room and doesn’t feel too tight or constricting.
The jacket’s cosiness factor is by far its biggest selling point for me. Rather than wearing a wool coat with a belt or something fitted, K-Way’s puffer fits around you in a much more soft, gentle way. Soft, snuggly and unpretentious, puffers like this are the outdoor equivalent of loungewear, which is probably why the K-Way puffer has become the unofficial jacket of lockdown this winter. The fitted cut of the K-Way Swan ’18 also makes it a useful tool for layering — use it as outerwear, another barrier against the cold under your parka on seriously freezing days, or even wear it under a suit jacket for frosty morning commutes.
After spending a few weeks with the K-Way Swan ’18 I’m already making plans to buy a second K-Way puffer jacket to add to my collection and if you’ve been umming and aaahing about buying one I hope this review serves as a sign to do yourself a favour this winter and add one to your cart.
The K-Way Swan ’18 down puffer jacket is available in-store as well as online from Cape Union Mart and retails for R1,499. To keep up with the latest news from the brand, say Hi to K-Way on Facebook here.
After years of working as an Editor and writer for popular websites like Joburg’s Darling, Cape Town’s Darling and Joburg.co.za, Crystal left her sanity and an established career in lifestyle journalism behind to follow her dream of creating a website for the intellectual and discerning woman. Today she spends her time chasing the thrill of being the first to know about ‘the next big thing’. She’ll try anything once and has been known to put her body, hair and health on the line – all in the name of research.