How to tell the difference between real and fake fur

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How to tell the difference between real and fake fur

Because mislabeling is becoming too common

Earlier this week, it came to light that UK high street brands like Missguided and House of Fraser have been selling “faux” animal products made from real animal fur. 

Real fur has become surprisingly cheap, mainly because of how cheap the industry now is in general. Animals (cats, dogs, minks and rabbits) can be kept in horrific conditions, killed in excruciating ways and are denied veterinary care.

This mislabelling of real animal fur is becoming increasingly common, particularly over the past five years. As well as being a problem morally, consumers who want to shop ethically aren’t even being protected from this unfair trading. If we can’t trust companies to tell us what they’re selling, we need to take it into our own hands.

Real animal fur trimmings. Soft wihite, grey, brown fur.

In response to the rise of mislabelling, PETA said: “Telling the difference between real and faux fur has become increasingly difficult as the quality of fur alternatives has improved – they now often feel and look just like animal fur. Not only is spotting a cruelty-free alternative becoming more difficult, but real fur can end up on low-cost clothing that isn’t labelled correctly, meaning that people are unwittingly ending up with animal skins in their wardrobe.”

Here’s what to look for when buying something labelled as faux fur:

Look at the tips of the hairs

Look at the individual hairs closely. If the tips hair descend into a fine point (like a sewing needle), it’s probably animal fur. Fake fur fibres are usually blunt at the end.

Try burning a few hairs to see what the smell is like

To do the burn test, pull a few small hairs from the item and use a lighter. If you burn animal fur it’ll have the same smell as burning human hair. Faux fur on the other hand is a synthetic material, so will produce a chemical, plastic-y smell. It might even melt into little plastic balls.

Push the hairs to the side to see the backing

Check the back of the fur itself, underneath the fur lining. Push the hairs to the side to find a place in the lining where you can see inside or feel the underside of the fur. If it’s real fur, the lining will resemble suede leather (kind of looks like human skin) and is often sewn together in strips or patches.

Stick a pin through it

If it goes through easily, it’s probably faux because the pin is sliding through a synthetic base. Pushing through animal skin, however, is difficult and sometimes impossible.

If you have any suspicions, contact the retailer

If it doesn’t seem like faux fur, you should contact the retailer about the problem straight away. You can also contact your local Trading Standards office, which may investigate the seller for unfair trading.

@daisy_bernard