Following news that real fur was mislabeled and sold as faux, it’s safe to say that we all took another look at our coats and stoles, hopeful that they were free from cat, dog or any other creature that was found lurking in the supposedly faux garments that contained real animal hair.
News like this is a reminder that price is no indication of whether the fur you’re buying is real or not – China’s dog and cat skin industry pushes out pelts every year to very low prices, often to be found at market stalls or boutiques that sell fur garments cheaply. Despite the fact that importing dog and cat fur is illegal in the US and the EU, this kind of fur still regularly appears on the market, sometimes labelled as faux.
So does this mean that you can never wear faux fur again? Absolutely not. There are several indicators that help distinguish real fur from faux, making sure that your next purchase is indeed faux and thus not a product of suffering.
The Three Telltale Tests of Faux Fur
1. It’s in the tips. Carefully look at the tip of each hair on your coat. Animal hair typically tapers at the end, whereas faux fur remains the same width. This is not a surefire indicator, though: if the hair has been sheared or plucked, it does not necessarily taper.
2. Check the base. The surest way to see if your fur is real or faux is by looking at the base, where the hair meets the backing. Faux fur is sewn onto a fabric backing, and you will see the threadwork, whereas real fur has a hide backing.
3. Burn it. Inherited a fur coat from your mum and you’re not sure whether it’s real or faux? Do the burn test: pluck a few hairs from the coat and light them on fire. Real fur burns the way human hair would, whereas faux fur has a plasticky smell when burning.
If in doubt, our advice is to leave it on the shelf – and keep in mind that letting the shop or company know why you will not be buying the garment sends a powerful message.
Photos by Alexandru Zdrobau and Marco Lastella via Unsplash