What is Faux Fur?

Take a close look at the faux fur and learn all about the different variations, how it is made, how to wear it, differences with real fur and the serious issues surrounding this fabric.

This is a woman wearing a white faux fur coat.

Do you own faux fur and didn’t know its history? Or have you ever walked past someone wearing a very stylish fur jacket and wonder if they are wearing real or fake fur?

Faux fur is usually made of synthetic materials that are processed to replicate the real fur’s texture. Faux fur was the solution to factory farming which was a controversial practice. It was made of pile fabric and used as a cheaper substitute to animal pelts in the early years but has now become a symbol of luxury.

Who doesn’t love to own a good faux fur jacket, a blanket, or even a carpet? Before discussing the reasons why we love faux fur, let’s understand its history and how it became the trend.

Table of Contents

How Faux Fur Started

This is a close look at a furry alpaca in a farm.

To understand what faux fur is, it’s necessary to have a knowledge of how it started. Fur can be considered vintage because it is one of the oldest forms of clothing everyone knows. For centuries, men and women can be seen wearing fur for various reasons.

Real fur is expensive and is not accessible for many. The production of real fur is also harmful to animals, thus the reason for creating a substitute. 1929 was when faux fur was first introduced using an Alpaca’s hair, a South American mammal.

However, this first attempt at faux fur was considered low quality from a fashion standpoint because of its monotonous color and rug-looking material, compared to the fur made with beavers or mink. But manufacturers kept developing the process of creating a good quality faux fur, and it certainly improved in the 1940s.

When fabric manufacturers started using acrylic polymers in the 1950s instead of alpaca’s hair, modern faux fur that is softer and warmer was invented and introduced to the market.

Acrylic polymers are vital to modern faux fur production because they provide the bulk necessary to emulate real fur without the associated weight of other faux fur fabrics.

Later on, manufacturers discovered that mixing acrylic polymers with other types of polymers, called modacrylics, can create a fire-resistant and more fur-like material. This fabric has now become the primary polymer used to develop faux fur.

Faux Fur Materials

Barcelonetta | Faux Fur Squares | Shaggy Fur Fabric Cuts, Patches | Craft, Costume, Camera Floor & Decoration (White, 10" X 10")

Click image for more info

Nowadays, fake furs are made of various materials. The bulk fibers are usually made of polymers, consist of modacrylics, acrylics, or other mixtures of polymers. Acrylic polymers are made of chemicals stemmed from coal, petroleum, limestone, air, and water.

Secondary monomers are also added to enhance the ability of the acrylic fibers when absorbing dyes. Modacrylic polymers, which is a fiber essential to creating fake fur, are copolymers resulting from acrylonitrile and vinyl chloride monomers.

Polymers, especially modacrylic and acrylic, have qualities that are very useful in manufacturing faux fur. Its characteristics are:

  • Light-weight and elastic, that helps create the fluffiness of the clothing.
  • Resistant to heat, smoke, sunlight, and soot showed its stability when machine washed.
  • These polymers are not prone to insect attacks
  • They can absorb a very low amount of moisture and can dry quickly

Other fabrics used to make faux fur and enhance its quality are silk, wool, and mohair. Cotton and wool are typically used to make backings to which the fibers are attached. On the other hand, rayon, polyester, and nylon are semi-synthetic fibers used as an add-on to acrylic and modacrylic fibers.

To further improve the smoothness of the faux fur, silicones, and other various resins are added. At the same time, color is matched similarly to natural fur to achieve the realness of fur.

Types of Faux Fur

Faux furs are a hit among fashion designers. Our care for the environment has evolved, thus the inspiration to provide an alternative solution that supports animal rights.

Since faux fur is developed to replicate real fur, it can be categorized by the sort of animal fur it looks and sense like. The most popular are faux rabbit, faux fox, sheepskin, and Sherpa. Luxurious faux fur fabrics include beaver, leopard, fake mink, sable, lynx, and more.

You can categorize each fur fabric depending on its length, softness, and other factors such as the cut, sew and pile direction. Available in the market today are the following types:

  1. Long Pile Faux Fur
  2. Medium Pile Faux Fur
  3. Short Or Low Pile Faux Fur

These types of faux furs are known globally, and some are used for fashion or home accessories. Each class has a different “pile”, which is the fur itself, and “nap”, which refers to the direction in which the fur is leaning to. 

Velboa faux fur has the shortest pile, and it is made of 100% polyester fabric. It is a popular choice for Halloween costumes and can be available in various styles. Velboa faux fur is soft and plush but not velvety.

Brown Tan Cow Velboa Faux Fur Fabric - Sold By The Yard - 58"/ 60"

Click image for more info

Animal faux fur has various types. It can be made of 100% polyester or a mixture of acrylic and polyester. It can only be dry cleaned and has a pile of ¼ to ½ inch. This fabric is often used as linings for instrument case and styles includes beaver, arctic or mink.

AMORNPHAN 58” Wide 100% Polyester Gold Leopard Tiger Cheetah Pattern Animal Print Short Pile Smooth Faux Fur Velboa S-Wave Fabric Craft Cloth Kid Patchwork Handmade Sewing Crafting Decorative Pillow Covers for 1 Yard (Leopard)

Click image for more info

Shag faux fur has the lengthiest pile that measures about one and ½ inches. This fabric is made of 70% acrylic and 30% polyester. Shag faux fur is common in chair covers and rugs, and it can only be dry cleaned.

Shannon Faux Fur Luxury Shag Amber, Fabric by the Yard

Click image for more info

How Faux Fur Is Made

The process of making faux fur is mainly automated, and it involves synthetic fibers production, garment construction, and garment modification.

Synthetic Fiber Production

Step 1: In an enormous container, acrylonitrile and vinyl chloride monomers are mixed. Then they are pushed into a chamber where heat and pressure increased. The polymerization process begins until a white powdery resin is generated and converted into a thick liquid.

Step 2: The liquid mixture is then driven through a filter to disperse particles that are not dissolved. Once it goes through the filter, the material goes to a spinneret plunged into the water. Once this process is complete, it will produce a group of tow or a group of continuous fibers.

Step 3: The tow will then be moved to a conveyer belt to stretch using pulleys. While it’s being stretched, the tow is also washed and dried. During the drying process, the acetone will be removed, retaining only the polymer. The tow is then strengthened, ready for cutting to its specific sizes.

Step 4: In this step, polymers are immersed in various dye solutions to obtain a solid background color.

Garment Construction

Step 5: Backing provides the structure for faux fur. The cotton or wool used for backing is driven off to a machine for cutting before transferring to the following process, where the fibers will be added.

Step 6: This process can involve different techniques for converting the fibers into a garment. The basic technique is weaving, wherein threads are looped with the backing fabric. This method can be slow. However, it can produce a massive variety of cloth shapes.

Another technique is called tufting, which is similar to weaving but creates the garment much quicker. The other two techniques are sliver knitting and circular loop knitting. Sliver knitting uses the same machine for jersey knitting. This method is the quickest and most cost-effective, being used by faux fur fabric manufacturers.

Garment Modification

Step 7: The garment is treated in multiple ways to emulate real fur. The fabric will undergo a heating process to enhance the fabric’s stability and expand its diameters. Then, it will be wire brushed to remove loose fibers.

After cutting the fibers to produce a uniform length, it will undergo an electrifying process in which is a polishing technique that combs the fabric with a grooved cylinder. The next step is to enhance the feel and look of the fiber through resins and silicone application.

Another process of electrifying and shearing is done to remove loose fibers before they get embossed, depending on the type of fake fur it will replicate.

Step 8: After the faux fur is created, it will be labeled as required and packaged for sending to its distributors.

How To Tell Faux Fur From Real Fur

This is a woman wearing a genuine brown fur coat with hood.

You can’t really tell the difference by just looking at the price tag of the product. The assumption that real fur is expensive can be wrong because some products with real fur are only part of it, such as on the edges of the jacket or as an accessory. The labels can also lie; some manufacturers don’t put labels or don’t genuinely mark it as faux.

Another thing to look out for is the tips. Real fur has elongated ends than faux fur with pointed ends because they were sheared or cut during manufacturing. Genuine fur also has tough or leathery backing when you part the hairs because of its attachment to the animal’s skin. Faux fur has a woven or knitted backing.

You can also tell by their lengths. Fake fur has a uniform length, while real fur will have different measurements since it is very natural. Burning is also another way to tell the difference between the two. If you own one, you can try to set a small piece on fire safety. Actual fur chars, while faux fur will turn into small plastic pieces. 

Faux fur has a synthetic base, and it is elastic enough to allow a metal pin to go through. But if it’s resistant when pushed heavily to the pin, it’s an obvious sign of the garment’s authenticity.

If you’re a fur expert, the difference is noticeable. But for those who are still confused, we will provide you with their characteristics to guide you in distinguishing faux fur from real fur.

Characteristics of Faux Fur

This is a pink shag faux fur fabric close up.
  • Faux furs have labels required by law.
  • It is soft, durable, and warm.
  • Faux fur can’t be impaired by moth larvae when it is not made of wool
  • Faux fur can be machine-washed or dry-cleaned, depending on how it was constructed
  • Faux fur can peel after a short time unless it’s brushed regularly
  • If the faux fur is made of cheap material, it can cause itchiness and can be uncomfortable when worn.
  • Since faux fur are manufactured, there are multiple colors and patterns available
  • Faux fur can’t provide as much warmth as real fur
  • Faux fur is possible to shrink extremely

Characteristics of Real Fur

This is a woman wearing a genuine white lynx fur coat.
  • Real furs are natural insulators and provide an incredible level of warmth in which faux fur cannot simply imitate.
  • Real fur comes in a variety of natural textures. Fabrics from a beaver or mink are softer to touch, while coyote will offer a more rigid exterior.
  • The color of genuine fur remains unchanged.

How To Properly Care For A Faux Fur

This is a close look at a woman brushing the fur coat.

Owning a faux is still an investment and requires proper handling and maintenance to retain its quality. If not looked after, the fur fibers can be damaged. So, how to care for your faux fur?

  • Store it in a dry place. Faux furs are not made for the wet season or rainy days. They tend to get sticky when wet because of their synthetic materials.
  • Store the faux fur in a breathable space. Don’t place it in between your other clothes or garment and will cause it to flatten.
  • Don’t expose it to sunlight. Faux fur, when exposed to sunlight, can result in discoloration and damage the fibers.
  • Smoothen faux fur with a soft brush. Don’t comb it with stiff or firm bristles to avoid ruining the hairs. Weekly brushing is recommended to remove small debris or dust from the fabric, retaining its shine.

If you are washing products with faux fur, you can’t simply throw it in the washing machine and expect it to be in good condition afterward. Hand wash or machine wash is an option.

If you opt to use the washer, set it on a gentle cycle with cold water. After washing, it’s best to dry it with a towel or hang it on the drying rack without exposing it to sunlight. You can do this for faux fur sheets, shawls, jackets, or coats. Avoid tumble-drying faux fur as it can shrink the garment.

Due to its pile and thickness, faux furs can take one to two days to dry up. Once the product is dry, brush it with soft bristles to retain its texture and quality.

How To Shop For Faux fur

A woman shopping for fur coat in a shop.

Good-quality faux fur is available anywhere if you know where and what to look for. Faux furs made of high-quality material are compact and feathery, with flexible backing. Style varies, but it should look exactly like real fur, even from afar.

If you are shopping for faux fur with patterns or various prints in multiple colors, you shouldn’t see any bald spots, and the color should be uniform or consistent. You should also check the stitching and ensure its durability. Don’t purchase a product that has any loose areas. Also, gently tug on the fur to check if any comes out to your hand to test if it can survive daily wear and tear. 

When purchasing a coat made of faux fur, it is best to see it in person than shopping for it online. Your body shape, size, and type play an important role when selecting the right faux fur coat, as you don’t want to look like a bear has swallowed you.

Of course, you have your own preference, but shorter coats are always the choice for plus-size women, while hip-length jackets are for petite-sized women. Since faux fur can be bulky, it adds extra weight to your body’s shadow.

Faux fur fabric is not stretchable, so wearing a jacket with this material will not be easy to put on if it doesn’t fit. So one of the best ways is to shop for it personally so that you can try it on yourself.

High-End Brands That Uses Faux Fur Fabric

Calvin Klein Womens Chevron Faux Fur Coat, PSE, XL

Click image for more info

Brands that are committed to sustainable fashion and offer products using faux fur fabric are the following:

  • Calvin Klein. This brand was one of the first to apply the fur-free policy in 1994, seeking cruelty-free substitutes. 
  • Stella McCartney. This brand uses cotton and other sustainable and recyclable materials for its products. They also label their faux fur fabric with “fur-free-fur” to highlight their choice regarding this issue.
  • Giorgio Armani. This brand went fur-free in 2016, explaining that cruel practices on animals are unnecessary because of the rise of new technologies.
  • Michael Kors. Together with Jimmy Choo, this brand applied the no fur policy in 2018, stating that it will be using technology to create non-animal fur products.

Faux Fur And The Issues Surrounding It

This is a protest in Paris by an animal rights group against fur.

Regarding corporate social responsibility, the animal rights issue is often overlooked, especially in the fashion industry.

PETA is also one of the largest organizations that keep on fighting for animal rights. They are encouraging consumers to look at faux fur as an excellent alternative to real fur. Back in the early 90s, they have ambushed the halls of Vogue and Calvin Klein and shackled themselves further to emphasize the situations of animals in fur farms.

The concern for animal rights has since grown, resulting in California being the first state in the United States to ban sales of fur in 2019. And, according to a Vogue Business article, luxury brands and retailers such as Prada, Farfetch, Phillip Lim, and Macy’s have disavowed fur, joining other fashion industry leaders, including Chanel and Burberry, in eradication real animal fur from production and sales. 

Despite these brands going fur-free, others such as Fendi, Miu Miu, and Louis Vitton continuously use it in their collections. And according to Mark Oaten, CEO of the International Fur Federation, he believed that fur could be sourced ethically and deemed it is more sustainable than faux fur.

Is Faux Fur Really Sustainable?

This is an illustration depicting the issues between faux fur and genuine fur.

The upside of faux fur is that no animals were harmed, and it is thought of as an ethical substitute to real fur. But there are still some cases where fur is branded as fake then turning out to be real.

Choosing faux fur over real fur only eliminates the issue of animal welfare. However, it doesn’t eradicate its impact on the environment. Since faux fur is made of synthetic fibers, mainly acrylic, it’s a form of plastic. As per an article, among nine fibers, acrylic has the worst impact on the environment.

And comparing real fur that biodegrades within six months to a year, faux fur that ends up in landfills could take hundreds of years before it decomposes. And, faux fur, when washed, contributes to water pollution.

Faux fur is more harmful to the environment, but the argument is not all faux fur is created equal. High-fashion brands use high-quality materials that don’t have the same impact as low-quality faux furs. However, if faux fur turns into a fast-fashion brand, then the harm it can cause to the environment is more alarming.

Conclusion

Fur is always here to stay, and it’s not something new. Consumers who care for both animals and the planet will find it challenging to own a fur garment because it caters to both different issues.

Faux fur is not the same as real fur. It obviously differs from the texture, feels, and material. But, fake fur, especially the high-quality ones, is a good alternative to real fur if you are thinking of buying one. It may be tempting to purchase cheap faux fur but like any other product, checking the quality first is necessary to get what you pay for.

Faux fur is also not limited to coats, hats, scarves, gloves, or shoes. Pillows and blankets made of faux fur fabric are also part of the trend, which can be a perfect accessory for the winter season.

With all of this information about faux fur, you can now say that you’re an expert. When you start looking for the perfect faux fur addition to your home or wardrobe, make sure that you buy quality faux fur that is worth the investment while applying proper care so you won’t regret it.

Sources:

Fibre 2 Fashion: Notes on Faux Fur

Teen Vogue: Faux Fur or Real Fur, Which is More Sustainable

All Creatures: Faux Fur Defined

Scroll to Top