While the puffer coat is a ubiquitous item in many wardrobes today, this wasn’t always the case. One of the origins of the puffer coat is likely the sleeping bag coat created by American designer Norma Kamali in 1973.
In 1973, following her divorce, Kamali was out camping in the woods with a boyfriend, and inspiration struck. As she told the New York Times in 2009:
“It was cold,” she recalled, “and I was always getting up at night to go to the bathroom.” On one particularly nippy night, she threw on her sleeping bag and sprinted for the bush. “As I was running,” she said, “I was thinking, ‘I need to put sleeves in this thing.’ ”
The Sleeping Bag Coat became a hit in 1970s fashion and culture. Elton John, Cher, and Elizabeth Montgomery all purchased the coat. And as Fern Mallis, former Executive Director of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, recounted to Vogue: “She created the whole puffer, down jacket business. Other than being available as ski clothes, way back when, she really made that everyday. The guys at the front door of Studio 54 all wore [the Sleeping Bag coat] because they were out all night.”
The coat remains one of Kamali’s most enduring designs; variations on the original continue to be made and sold.