Nothing in my closet makes me feel more glamorous than my faux fur jacket. When I wear it, I swear my walk becomes more of a strut and I can’t help but feel like Carrie Bradshaw on New Year’s Eve. Clearly, many people feel the same way when they wear their favorite fur apparel, given it has become one of the most in-demand fabrics. Everywhere we look now, there’s both real and faux fur vests, coats, and even shoes… in fact, you can find fur loafers just about everywhere ever since the Gucci Fall 2015 line.
Although it looks fabulous, real fur can be expensive and let's be honest - not animal-friendly! For those not interested in purchasing real fur, faux fur is the perfect alternative. It has a similar look to real fur yet doesn’t break the bank. But what even is faux fur? And how can you tell the difference between faux and real fur?
With fake and real fur appearing to be almost identical, consumers will often look first to the company labels to help distinguish between the two. This is usually helpful, however, the accuracy of the label hinges upon the company’s ability to actually tell the truth (which, unfortunately, is not always the case). For example, in 2013 The Humane Society announced a warning to notifying shoppers that Kohls (as well as some other companies) was selling handbags advertised as being made with faux fur when in reality they were trimmed with rabbit fur. Though this mistrust of labels has dissipated, there are other ways to distinguish the two for yourself, rather than just relying on what the tag says.
According to the Humane Society, there are three major ways to tell if the fur on an item is real or not:
Investigate the base of the fur. After pushing apart the fur to see the base, if you see a leather material, it is most likely real (especially if it is a white or tan color). If the base is more of a threadwork texture, the hairs are fake.
Check the way the hair follicles taper. Real fur hair follicles also tend to taper to a point while faux fur tends to have a more blunt tip.
Burn a few of the hairs. I know, it sounds a little extreme but you can actually tell if the fur is real or fake by the scent emitted from burning it (if it smells like burning human hair, the fur is most likely real). Now, I’m not encouraging you to rip out hairs of an item that you may want to return later or to commit any sort of arson at your local retail store, but this is one noteworthy way you can tell the difference between faux and real fur.
The Los Angeles Times stated that to actually produce faux fur, it's “sheared to make fibers the right length, and heat is often applied...to coax it to lie in a certain direction (similar to the way a blow dryer works on hair)”. It consists of synthetic fibers and is often dyed and brushed out to give it a soft texture similar to real fur.
Purchasing faux fur has many other advantages. In addition to lower price point, taking care of it is much easier than real fur since it is synthetic. If you get it dirty, many items with faux fur can even be put in the washing machine (just be sure not to put it in the dryer so the fur doesn’t tangle or become misshapen once it dries). Faux fur is also more durable and won’t fade or change color nearly as fast as real fur. Lastly, storing your faux fur clothing is something you don’t need to worry about because unlike real fur it is not as easily damaged if stored in humid conditions.