What is faux fur, a simple guide
Have you ever walked pass someone on the street, wearing this beautiful and stylish fur coat, thinking how soft, comfortable and warm it must be. Well, this thought is usually followed by two questions – “Is this a real fur or a fake one and how much does this luxury costs? “.
In this guide we will answer both of these questions and much more. We will go through everything you need to know about faux fur and how you can tell the difference between fake fur and real one.
Without further ado let’s dive right in!
Table of contents:
- What is faux fur?
- A brief history of faux fur
- How it’s made
- The use of faux fur
- How to tell the difference between real fur and a fake one
What is faux fur?
Faux fur or fake fur is any textile fabric that is designed to resemble real fur. This material is usually crafted from synthetic fibers that are processed and made to match the appearance of different types of animal fur. Although it has many uses in different aspects of business and life, undoubtedly, it's most common one is in fashion. Designers from all over the world have implemented fake fur in their fashion collections, creating different and unique sets of elegant and stylish or colorful and abstract pieces of clothing (check out Velufur jacket collection). With today's technologies, it has become almost impossible to tell the difference between faux fur and real one simply by looking at a piece of fur clothing, regardless being on the street or on а picture on the Internet.
A brief history of faux fur
To begin with, fur, in general, has been part of our wardrobe as a species for centuries, both for practical and vanity reasons. Starting with cavemen that used animal fur for isolation from the cold, which is even today one of the best ways to stay warm in the colder parts of the world, to the Egyptian pharaohs and other rulers through the history of our kind, who wore it as a sign of nobility, power and wealth.
Today, as mentioned, it has its practical uses in some places but mostly it has become a fashion trend.
In the beginning, it was made from leftovers of other fabrics and was very pile, thus not making it look very similar to the real one, but in years with the development of the technologies, this changed too.
This easy to make fabric became very popular both in the industry and in society, as it was way cheaper than its organic counterpart and it was affordable for the regular people to emulate to the upper class.Faux fur was first introduced in the beginning of the 20th century as a result of the efforts of the manufacturers to make easy money. Yes, it was greed that brought this fabric to the world and it will be much later that it will occur to the animal right’s activists that they can use it in the fight against cruel animal fur farming. In the middle of the century faux fur was already successfully imitating several animals furs like leopard's and gazelle's ones and it wasn’t long after that many more were added to this variety, some more successful than others. But as the imitation’s quality was increasing, some designers gave birth to new and more colorful designs. The development of modern technologies and the competition in faux fur manufacturing allowed the new fabrics to withstand coloring and different types of thermal and chemical processing.
While real fur usually came in one or two colors, varying from black, brown to white, as they were the natural colors of the animals it came from, the only boundaries before faux fur were the limits of the imagination of the designers. So models of jackets, coats and different fur clothing in a great variety of bright colors flooded the markets, something unseen before. This gave faux fur utility as a something unique on its own and not only as a cheaper imitation of the real fur, as seen until then.
Faux fur and animal activists
By the middle of the century faux fur was already more than popular on the markets and in the society. But until then what made its manufacturing such a great success was mostly how affordable and cheap to produce it was. In the second half of the century, animal rights movements grew stronger and more and more people started supporting their campaign against animal cruelty. Naturally, animal fur farms were one of the activist’s main targets.
This became a great opportunity for faux fur manufacturers, as their product served as a weapon to the activist’s movements against animal fur farming. This was really huge, as the idea of animal preservation appealed to many members of the society and the activists promoted freely faux fur as a great substitute for real fur, through which many animals could be saved. With this in mind, in the eyes of the regular people, to which faux fur was already really appealing as it was, it became a must-have for many of them.
With years more and more designers and fashion brands changed their policies and today most of them are against animal cruelty and promote the use of faux fur.
How it's made?
First of all, let’s cover the materials used in the process. For the bulk fibers different polymers are used, usually, acrylics, modacrylics and a variety of combinations between them, depending on the fur that the fabric is required to resemble. Acrylics are a result of chemical reaction between chemicals derived from coal, petroleum, water and air, processed through pressure and heat. Modacrylics are made in a similar way and consist of acrylonitrile and vinyl chloride monomers. For more info check LoveToKnow.
Of course, there are many secondary ingredients that are added to improve the quality of the fabrics. Some additional monomers make the fiber absorb easily different dyes and allow them to last much longer. A variety of organic fibers like cotton, silk and wool are also included to improve the look and feel of the fake fur.
Why these materials? Well, they provide the fabric with so many great qualities. They are light-weight and stretchable, making the fur fluffier and more genuine. They can absorb and endure dying in a great variety of colors. They are highly resistant to different weather conditions, as they are unaffected by the heat, sunlight, cold, etc., or at least way less than their original counterpart. Furthermore, these materials ability to absorb water is really low, so they dry really fast and most of them even can endure laundering. Last, but not least, they are synthetic fibers and are not a target of different insects like moths.
It's the 21st century and the manufacturing process has already been mostly automated and faux fur is no exception.
Creating the fibers
The first step of faux fur manufacturing is the production of the fibers. Keep in mind that the process may differ with the different materials used, depending on the desired result. All materials are combined in a large chamber in which their polymerization into the desired fibers begins. In it, they undergo heat and pressure processing, while large blades are consistently mixing the substance. The result comes out as a white resin, which is then turned into a thick liquid by submerging into acetone.
After this, the substance goes through filters to remove the remaining solid particles and is then bathed into the water. The thick polymer liquid is then converted into a tow, which is a basically a lot of uncut fibers, with the help of specially designed spinnerets. The tow is stretched several times until it obtains the desired thickness, while at the same time it’s washed from the acetone and dried. Finally, a machine cuts it into appropriate pieces (hairs) and is dyed in the appointed colors.
The making of the garment
After the fibers are ready, it’s time to add them to the backing. The backing is usually made from organic fibers such as wool and cotton and their color depends on the fur that the processed piece of fabric should resemble. There are several different ways to attach the fibers to the backing, such as weaving, knitting and tufting, each having its advantages and disadvantages and is used depending on the type of the produced fabric.
Finishing the fur
Once the garment is ready, it goes through series of processing to improve its quality. First, the fabric is heated this improves the strength and resistance of the fibers and guarantees they will stay in place on the backing. After this wire brushes are used to remove any loose fibers from the garment, followed by a set of knives that cut any uneven fibers that stick out. A mix of chemicals is applied to the fabric to increase its durability, touch and look and then the garment is colored in desired colors.
It’s needless to say that during the whole process and after it the fur goes through series of quality controls to ensure that the manufacturing is going as planned.
When the product is finished it is labeled as faux fur and is ready for to be shipped.
The use of faux fur
Faux fur is, after all, a replacement of the real fur and it's no surprise that it's used wherever its organic counterpart is.
Today designers from all over the world have implemented it in their collections. Its popularity has seen an increase in the recent years as the fight against animal cruelty has gained the support from the majority of the people in our society. This is the reason why many big fashion brands have denounced the use of real fur and started promoting faux fur. Additionally, the ability of the synthetic fibers to withstand coloring allows the making of many bright and colorful models of clothing, which are especially appealing to the younger generations.
Faux fur has its practical uses too in cold isolation clothing. It’s used in the production of many jackets, hats, gloves, etc. collections. In fact, it is widely used for the manufacturing of the Russian’s military clothing, as we know they have to deal with the cold consistently in the north.
Faux fur has its own uses apart from real fur too. It is used in the manufacturing of stuffed animals and variety of different children's toys, as well as in the making of some home decorations such as pillows, rags, carpets and many more.
How to tell the difference between faux fur and animal fur
As mentioned several times before, with the development of technologies the manufacturing of faux fur has improved so drastically over the last decades that it can be hard to separate the real fur from the fake one. Even so, these two have distinct characteristics that you can use to distinguish them.
Here are some methods you can use:
1.Look at the label.
By the law, every piece of clothing must be labeled and materials being used in its manufacturing should be listed on it. So, you should be able to find the needed information on it. Furthermore, you can find the brand name there and see if they are associated with animal fur or faux fur, as many popular brands are against the harm of animals.
But are the labels reliable?
Last year a customer purchased a product from a famous brand in the UK which was labeled as containing synthetic fur only. The customer wasn’t so sure about that and contacted the customer service team. They assured her that this was indeed fake fur and pointed out that the use of real fur is prohibited by the policies of the company. Still, the customer contacted an animal protection group and they helped her determine that what she had was, in fact, animal fur and not a synthetic one. You can read the whole story here.
The store apologized to the public and stated that this was an issue with one of their suppliers who lied to them and then offered a refund to anyone who had purchased products with real fur from them. Investigations followed and the results were shocking, this was far from an isolated incident.
You can’t always trust labels and sometimes you might not be able to find one, so what now? Well, there is still a way to tell the difference.
You can check this video by the World Animal Protection USA in which they aim to raise awareness among the customers.
2.Touch the fur, how does it feel?
Faux fur is made from synthetic materials unlike real fur that is part of a living organism, so even though it is designed to resemble it, it doesn't have the same feel as the original.
The real fur feels much smoother and softer. If you run your fingers through it, it doesn't stick to them. Also, the texture of every hair is naturally thicker at the bottom and thinner at the top.
Faux fur, on the other hand, has dense and coarse texture. It sticks to your fingers if you roll it between them. The texture is the same all over the fiber.
3.Burn several hairs
Take a lighter or a candle and burn several strands of it. Real fur will smell like burned hair, while faux fur will smell like burned plastic and will melt like it. Keep in mind that using this method in the shop might not be a good idea, as it can get you in trouble.
4.Check the backing
Faux fur backing is manufactured from different types of fibers that are waved together to form a base for the fibers. Organic fur is attached to the skin of the animal, so if you can sense or see a leather base then this one is authentic.
You can also check this by sticking the backing with a needle. If it goes through it easily, this means that it's probably a synthetic product, while if you are having a hard time to push through the chances are this is a real fur, as leather is way more resistant to penetration.
If you aren't sure if a certain product is made of real fur or fake one then we suggest you simply not to buy it until you know for certain. Still, if you've already purchased the product and have a difficult time to determine what the fabric is, simply contact your local animal rights group. There, people will help you answer this question and if it happens to be indeed real fur, you should contact the appropriate authorities to conduct an investigation and deal with the problem.
We have a selection of the rarest and most unique faux fur to choose from. Long-pile, short-pile, tri-color, 3-tone spike, and lot's of funky, psychedelic colors — something for everyone!