In the 1920s, wearing expensive fur was all the rage. Today, however, real furs have taken a backseat to imitation, or faux fur products, and for a good reason. Companies across the globe are creating beautiful products, like faux fur jackets and faux fur bombers, without harming any of our favorite furry friends! Here's the lowdown on how to ensure you're purchasing faux fur that's the real deal.
- The History of Faux Fur
- How to Tell the Difference Between Real and Fake Fur
- Cruelty-Free and Vegan Faux Fur
- How to Take Care of Faux Fur
- Popular Faux Fur Products
The History of Faux Fur
"This article is not for you if you are feeling economical or momentarily poor." If you were reading Vogue in 1929, you might have come across this quote in a story entitled, "The Fur Story of 1929." At this point in history, fur was a status symbol and could only be afforded by those who were exceptionally wealthy. The magazine goes as far as to advise women to turn down money, everyday clothes, and even jewelry, but they should never choose to go without a fur because a fur tells people "the kind of woman you are and the kind of life you lead."
Although many people believe that the transition from real to faux fur jackets came from a rise in campaigns by animal advocacy groups, reducing the popularity of fur had a lot to do with the influx of faux furs that began to occur almost 20 years before that article appeared in Vogue.
Around 1910, newspapers began to mention the increase in faux fur jackets made from Astrakhan, a fur made from a newborn or unborn lamb's skin. The articles highlighted the affordability of faux fur compared to the real alternative and the high-quality textiles used to manufacture the furs. When manufacturers first began to create imitation fur, they chose pile fabric, a style that was already used to make velvet and corduroy.
In 1919, the United States government placed a 10 percent tax on authentic fur due to the war's economic impact. This tax lasted until 1928 and caused a massive increase in orders of faux fur jackets and faux fur bombers because they were more affordable and easier to access than real fur.
Making Faux Fur Fashionable
As early as the 1920s, it is evident that women were looking to find an affordable dupe to the furs seen on socialites and the wealthy. As time passed and technology continued to improve, manufacturers were able to use silk to create new and exciting looks that resembled authentic fur patterns such as mole, leopard, and gazelle. Orlon appeared in 1948 and Dynel in 1950. In 1957, you could purchase a faux fur jacket or faux fur bomber that resembled seal, beaver, raccoon, mink, ermine, giraffe, and even horse. If designers couldn't replicate a specific fur's exact feeling, they hoped that the look would be good enough to pass for the real thing visually.
Unfortunately for many of our furry friends, genuine fur was still being sold in department stores by several luxury brands into the 1960s and 70s. Actors flaunted their wealth by adorning themselves in gifted furs, which further enforced the idea of genuine fur products as a fashion symbol. At the same time, however, animal rights activists became increasingly vocal about the death of specific animals for their fur. In particular, endangered species such as leopards, tigers, and panthers.
The fight between conservationists and the fashion industry continued from the 70s until the early to mid-1990s. Although actors including Doris Day and Mary Tyler Moore spoke out against the fur industry in the early 1970s, the most significant turning point came in 1994 when animal rights group PETA, which stands for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, ran its iconic campaign against fur. The ad featured models including Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell posing nude while promoting the slogan, "I'd rather be naked than wear fur."
How to Tell the Difference Between Faux and Real Fur
When you think about a faux fur jacket, most people search for a dupe that imitates the real deal. Unfortunately, there are instances where manufacturers of authentic fur attempt to pass off their products as faux to please animal advocates and consumers. Thankfully, there are a few tried and true ways to determine if the product you're buying is real or faux.
- Check the label
- Research brand names
- Ignore prices
- Examine the ends
- Go by touch
- Needle test
- Try a burn test
Read the Label
When you're buying a faux fur bomber or another accessory, it's essential to ensure the company is advertising the piece you select accurately. Although every piece of clothing should have a label with a list of the constituents it contains, not every brand takes the precautions necessary when sourcing its materials. Also, if a garment includes many materials, fur may not be listed if it does not make up the majority of the material used.
Research the Brand
Another way to begin an investigation into the source of the fur on a faux fur jacket is to research the brand's history. A few years ago, Humane Society International uncovered a variety of European brands selling real fur marketed as faux. The products included keychains, hair clips, and other accessories made from mink and rabbit. Completing a cursory Google search on whether or not a brand you're looking at has ever been investigated for marketing authentic fur as faux is an excellent place to start when shopping around.
Ignore the Price
Unfortunately, price isn't always a great indicator of whether a faux fur bomber, jacket, or other accessory contains real fur. With many clothing items featuring small amounts of fur as trim or using fur as an accessory, the price may not accurately reflect whether you're looking at real or fake fur.
Examine the Ends
A quick and easy way to determine a real versus faux fur jacket is to examine the fur's ends. On authentic fur, the ends are pointed with a thicker shaft that tapers into the ends. On faux fur, the ends are blunt because they have been cut or trimmed during the manufacturing process.
Go By Touch
Although technology and manufacturing processes have advanced drastically over the last century, a quick and easy method for testing the authenticity of a piece of fur is to see how it feels to the touch. Most real fur feels incredibly soft and smooth, such as the feeling of petting a cat or other fluffy animal (the exception would be products from horses, cows, or other animals with hair rather than fur). Faux fur jackets feel more synthetic, rough, or coarse. For lower-end faux fur bombers, think of the way a stuffed animal feels. Also, feel the material that the fur is attached to. Separate the fur down to the backing and feel to see if the material is leather, which would indicate real fur, or stretch weaved fabric for synthetic.
Try the Needle Test
Walking around sticking needles into faux fur jackets or handbags can be problematic, especially if you're in a fancy store. However, the needle test is a great way to determine if the product you're holding is faux or authentic. Take a needle or pin and stick it through the fur and the lining. If it slides through the backing easily, the chances are that the fur is synthetic because the needle slides through the fabric without resistance. However, if the needle is harder to push through the backing, or if it won't go through at all, the fur is likely authentic because the backing is leather.
The Burn Test
This test is one that you don't want to do in an upscale store! Very carefully, pull out three to four strands of the fur and place them on a fire-proof plate or another safe surface. Using a match or a lighter, hold a flame to the strands. If the fur appears singed and smells like burnt hair, it's real fur. If the strands smell like burnt plastic or paper and curl up into balls or become fluffy gray ashes, the material is most likely faux fur and made of rayon, plastic, linen, or cotton.
Cruelty-Free and Vegan Faux Fur
Wearing faux fur is widely accepted among members of the animal rights advocacy communities as long as it is not sourced from any animal or contains animal products. To be considered vegan and cruelty-free, faux fur cannot contain leather, real fur, or any other material that is made from animals or utilizes animal testing. When customers can authenticate a faux fur jacket or faux fur bomber, these fashionable items are an excellent choice for shoppers looking for cruelty-free and vegan clothing.
Although PETA and other animal rights organizations accept faux fur jackets and other trends, it's a personal preference whether wearing something that imitates authentic animal fur is acceptable. Some vegan people choose not to wear faux fur for the image that it gives off even though the product itself is vegan and cruelty-free.
How to Take Care of Faux Fur
Like most fashion products, faux fur jackets, faux fur bombers, and other faux fur accessories contain specific instructions on their labels on how they should be washed and cleaned. The label should include whether the item is machine washable, washed by hand, or dry clean only. For items that are machine washable or hand wash only, the tag should indicate the correct water temperature, what type of detergent to use, and how to dry it.
If the item is machine washable, we recommend turning it inside out and washing it on a gentle cycle in cold water without other garments. Washing inside out will help preserve the fur's quality while using cold water to prevent the synthetic fibers from being damaged by heat. Be careful to avoid putting your faux fur bomber in the dryer, exposing it to hot surfaces, or ironing. Depending on the type of synthetic material used to construct the item, heat could cause significant harm.
For handwashing, use cold or lukewarm water and a mild laundry detergent designed explicitly for handwashing. Instead of submerging your faux fur bomber or faux fur jacket in the water, spot clean the item, and only focus on the areas that need cleaning. Spot cleaning helps maintain the quality and texture of the fur.
Popular Faux Fur Products
There are hundreds of thousands of faux fur products on the market today, ranging from chic faux fur bombers and purses to pillows and faux fur jackets. New York City-based brand Ava + Kris features a beautiful selection of faux fur jackets and faux fur bombers with detachable faux fur collars in various colors and designs.
Here are some of our favorite Ava + Kris products:
- Hailey Faux Fur Jacket: The Hailey faux fur jacket is a perfect choice for making a fashion statement. The jacket features a lightweight faded denim wash with a cropped bottom and oversized sleeves. The raw hem pairs with distressed patches while the detachable faux fur collar in leopard print makes the piece an absolute must-have.
- Janie Faux Fur Bomber: Our Janie faux fur bomber is one of our favorites for dressing up. The soft faux fur pairs perfectly with sleek faux leather accents for an edgy look that is both sophisticated and fun. This faux fur bomber is our go-to choice for a date night or heading out on the town with friends.
- Dusty Nude Faux Fur Jacket Collar: Versatility is a must, which is why we love giving customers the ability to switch up their look with our mix and match faux fur jacket collars. The dusty nude color gives any of our Hailey, Sara, or Jane jackets a girly touch thanks to buttons that allow the collar to attach with ease.
If you're shopping for a faux fur fashion accessory, be sure you know the ins and outs of fake fur! At Ava + Kris, you'll enjoy beautifully crafted accessories and custom-made fabrics you won't find anywhere else. Shop the Ava + Kris website today to learn more about how this female-owned business pairs comfort and functionality while pushing traditional fashion boundaries!