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What is Faux Fur?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
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Faux fur is quite simply fake fur. Today, this material is a popular alternative to real fur. Some representations are so like the appearance of real fur that it can be hard to tell the difference.

This was not always the case. Early faux fur was often thought of as cheap or shoddy, and quite easy to separate from the “real thing.” People who could not afford true fur might choose a fake version to copy styles they could not afford. It was often associated with the lower classes.

Today, many love faux fur because it means no animal has been raised and killed for the purpose of fashion. While there are still many who love real furs, this number has steadily declined. Major designers, who once worked with real fur only, often are pressured by organizations like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), to switch to fake furs instead. Many have felt PETA has valid points or out of their own conviction feel that there’s no need to use animals to provide fur garments.

The best faux fur tends to be made of fine acrylic fibers. Acrylic can be dyed to represent the colors and patters of real animals. This material can give a certain amount of warmth to a garment, but it will not be as warm as real fur.

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On the other hand, there are actually few weather conditions that call for the wearing of real fur. Even in cold and snowy weather, faux fur jackets with appropriate padding and lining are likely to provide adequate warmth. The only areas on earth where fur might be more necessary are the extreme North, as in Alaska and Siberia, and the extreme South, as in the Antarctic continent. Even in these areas, new synthetic materials are often preferred to fur.

In some ways faux fur has been used for numerous years on quite recognizable objects. Most stuffed animals have fake fur, mostly acrylic. One exception in make is the very beautiful and expensive Steiff stuffed animals. Their fur is often made of a cotton/wool blends and they use few synthetic fabrics.

This material is also a popular trim on shoes, women’s lingerie, decorative pillows, rugs, and as accents to clothing. The quality can vary, so look for fur that when stroked does not release a lot of its hairs.

Also, some fashion trends have reflected making faux fur look quite fake. It may be dyed in very bright colors and have very long fibers or loops. This may be fun to wear or may also be worn as a statement that the fur is indeed fake.

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Discuss this Article

anon332846
Post 48

I would never ever wear real fur, have seen how cruelly humans treat animals, the killing of baby seals, the rabbits, and many other animals. I am an animal activist and most people do not know about the pain and cruelty of animals, so they will use animal products and eat food like fois gras where the animal suffers untold agony.

Please do some research, do not turn a blind eye to the suffering of other forms of life on this planet. If the human race were to die out, plants and animals would flourish, but if plants and animals were to die, the human race would not survive.

anon326951
Post 47

To the posters claiming real fur is the best and only thing that can keep you warm, I'm sure the animal that has just been skinned alive screaming in agony probably thought it would keep them warm too, but they had no choice they had their skin ripped from them -- for what? Fashion and some human wanting a new coat.

Most of the people who wear fur have little dogs or cats. How would they feel if their pet was skinned alive in front of them? Would they want to wear their pet's fur? No, I don't think so, but it's OK to wear the fur of an anonymous animal?

We live in the 21st century and there is no good reason, including cold weather, as plenty of materials have been created to combat cold and arctic weather conditions without using animal furs and skins, to continue the barbaric practice of using animal fur/skin, which is barbaric.

I highly recommend if you want to carry on wearing real fur then visit a fur factory and see how they actually skin the animal see how much you want to wear it then!

It's not glamorous, it's not sexy and it's not worth the sadistic torture of other creatures on this planet. The comment that is costs more in terms of global warming, etc. to create faux fur is also a myth and complete crap.

There are protective clothing items made from synthetics instead of leather for motorcycling and other activities.

Real fur wearers belong in the past.

anon308061
Post 46

I recently started inquiring about the availability of a warm fluffy fury coat, not necessarily real fur. After viewing these posted statements, I became educated about what faux fur is verses real fur. Yes, real fur is beautiful on live animals when viewing them, where they are free and living happily. Faux fur is very pretty also.

Now I must say, I have never been aware of the cruelty possibilities regarding the animals and did not know what faux fur was, nor how it is made, until today. I was sad to read of the cruelty and also about waste materials polluting the earth.

It is true we don't own the earth (our Creator does). The result is, I love the look of fur and faux fur. Felt faux would be OK, since it is fake fur and not real. But I am now aware of other negative issues pertaining to its production. I guess I've never given thought to the many leather boots I've had or even the leather skirt with fringe I had. I recently gave all away (and at the time of departure, was still not thinking of how those leathers were obtained).

Thank you for posting facts and opinions regarding real furs verses faux furs, leathers, etc. I am sad about the knowledge obtained herein, but also glad.

Now I don't plan to obtain either type and am thinking about further discarding anything I might still have, such as some leather purses and a couple of pairs of boots. Take care, folks.

anon301390
Post 45

Why are you talking like we're the only ones in the world? No, it's not okay to skin animals while alive, no, it's not okay that we use all of these harmful materials and stop acting like it is.

The world is not ours, nor are the animals or plants of nature. If we would focus on 'helping' the world instead of new, shiny, expensive, 'better than my neighbour has' things, and where the money is (fashion, entertainment, etc.), the world would be a happier place.

The animals can feel too. Skinning them live so a Kardashian can wear them to some unimportant event is crazy. I don't wear leather (shoes) or fur, even in winter, and all of the alternatives seem to work fine, because I'm not cold.

Instead of using our intelligence for good, we do stupid, brainwashed things. It's not okay for us to be thinking the world is ours and everything on it and that we can do whatever the hell we want.

The Earth does not belong to us; we belong to the Earth.

anon273645
Post 44

I've read most of these post about fake fur verses real fur and everybody have a good point. I plan on starting a faux fur line of clothing that I am excited about. Faux or fake fur looks really good today, like the real thing.

I have always been a lover of fur and animal prints. At one time I had plans to buy a full length raccoon coat, I dreamed about this coat. This was about 30 years back and the coat cost about $3,000, and I was going to have to save up for it. The coat was in a high fashion store, so no, I was not looking for warmth; I wanted style. (selfish minded). I didn't get the coat.

Years later when I heard of groups against killing animals, it made me glad I didn't buy it. Because I can be truthful with myself, I like fur for style, I think the fur look is sexy. And no animal should die for that reason, when fake fur looks and feel much the same. Now for people in very cold climates, I think that is different. So I plan on having fun with my faux fur clothing of hats, coats, jacket, purses and boot toppers!

anon261117
Post 43

Poor animals! Why do we need real fur for fashion? Faux fur is a great fur and I love it more than real fur.

anon230601
Post 42

You buy fur, you support the cruelty behind it.

Google fur farms, and go to any of the videos behind chinese fur farms, where you can see for yourself animals being bludgeoned and then skinned alive, their legs still kicking, and even one raccoon completely skinned alive, his poor head lifting up to look at the camera and blink his eyes.

I have never sobbed so hard. I couldn't even finish watching the entire clip.

If you can watch this video, and continue to support such inhumane cruelty, then your heart is dead.

If we are inferior to God's little creatures, then we should be protecting them, not slaughtering them like savages for cosmetic and fashion purposes.

anon219473
Post 41

I'm just curious; does anyone know if Steiff ever kills animals to make their products, such as the plush toys made of cuddly woven-fur?

anon204143
Post 39

better to use animals -- a renewable resource. animal rights people are inferior humans.

anon175861
Post 38

its so mean and terrible to raise an animal and kill to use its fur to make clothes. real fur should be banned everywhere.

anon159996
Post 34

Nothing deserves to be killed for its pelt. Eskimos and Indians used it because they had too. Buy a warm jacket and leave the animals alone. I bet if you had to kill 55 chinchillas yourself, or electrocute a bunch of fox or rabbits (because apparently that's the ethical route) you couldn't do it yourself.

If you own a cat or dog as a pet and buy fur, then you're wearing your pet -- think of it that way! Watch the videos of them killing these animals then tell me it's O.K. The indians prayed to the animal spirits after hunting and killing an animal to eat and clothe themselves. It's a lot different. Fur is gross and inhumane!

anon153022
Post 33

Faux fur is not functional. This is a fact not taken into consideration in your models. Whether one alternative requires more fossil fuels than the other is moot when the end result is not equal.

My faux fur is in a landfill and my real fur is in use today and will be in use for a long time. The scandal is that faux fur forces consumers to wastefully purchase new garments that are functional.

Farming can be done ethically. Many of you whine about animals being skinned alive or kept in captivity but that is *not* the case in an ethically run fur farm. Do your homework.

I have fur hats that are 30 years old and many vintage fur garments are even older. That is worth considering. If you have don't want to be responsible for the death of an animal (though many furs are a by-product) you can always go vintage for the functionality.

Rabbit fur and sheep fur are a byproduct of the food industry. Using animals we kill as completely as possible is not only economical it's also ethical. Natives did not waste much of the caribou.

I recently purchased a sheared beaver hat to cope with the -30 C weather we're having here and I am not ashamed!

anon152609
Post 32

real fur any day over this fake faux crap. you guys just can't afford the real fur.

anon143624
Post 31

90 percent of "faux" fur is actually real fur. If it is from China, guaranteed to be real fur. It is cheaper to harvest fur from cats and dogs, than it is to produce synthetic fur. Cats and dogs in China are either beaten to death or beaten then skinned alive.

anon136944
Post 30

I worry about faux fur coming from China as I am aware the Chinese are cruel. Skinning cats and dogs alive. Shops like Evans and Marks and Spencers are selling faux fur from China. I wonder if they have researched where faux fur is made? I don`t think faux fur is a good idea because people can get away with wearing real fur unnoticed.

anon126374
Post 28

I am a big animal lover, but the truth is fur will keep your face from freezing if you are out in severe cold. Faux fur is not warm. If it were, I would buy it.

anon124461
Post 27

There is a good argument for wearing fake fur, It's the ethical treatment of animals. "jerryphd" your comment made me sick.

anon124434
Post 26

faux fur or fake fur whatever they try to call it comes from china. dogs and cats are being skinned alive to make faux fur fashions, stuffed animals and every product that has fake or faux fur. it was on Larry King a few years back. Horrible, horrible it will make you mad and horrified at the same time. this is a real life horror movie.

anon124285
Post 25

back from comment 14.

The use of by-product to feed fur animals is gratifying, but still doesn't get you off the hook. Just because it's not fit for human consumption doesn't mean the material these animals eat couldn't be used elsewhere. If deemed safe, it could be used to feed pigs, reducing their need for human-grade grains. If unsuited to pigs, it could go into pet food (a dog or cat has much the same nutritional needs as a fox or mink), again reducing the demand for higher grade foods for these products.

If unsuited to either, it could be processed for fertilizer, reducing the oil demand of the fertilizer industry, or even used to generate biogas onsite at the food plant and reduce the plants use of oil.

My leghold trap numbers were more or less made up, it was an illustration of an idea not a scientific calculation. I didn't mean it to be taken as gospel, hence using the word "may".

Precise numbers are available online, not just guesses (unfortunately they are only first level citations, referring to another anti-fur book which presumably itself actually mentions the real studies and papers involved, so I can't vouch for the accuracy of the numbers therein). Even if these numbers are inflated, outdated or misleading, there is no denying that bycatch is a serious issue.

sherinag
Post 24

I understand that fur was used in the past to keep warm etc., but there is so many alternatives now that there is no need for it. Animals are treated badly and with no respect for what they actually give. All are in small cages. It's all about the money and nothing else. How cruel and disgusting.

anon107984
Post 22

@Jerryphd Comment 18: “road kill,” really?

Outside of extreme climates, most people wearing fur are insecure individuals who are donning this crap to try to impress others.

Do you really think Madonna, Kate Hudson, Rachel Zoe, Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore, Kanye West, are gonna run around saying "Oh, I have a I-95 skunk-pancake taken out by a semi vintage 2003 on my back this evening?"

anon106136
Post 21

I think real fur is terrible, I can't think of worse cruelty that exists. It makes me sick when I think of the innocent animals being ripped of their fur, mostly they're skinned alive. Whoever uses real fur should be completely ashamed of themselves.

When you see pictures of a puppy eating another puppy because they have been starved and bred for their fur, you think very differently. However I've never worn fur, never want to and everyone should follow suit. Compassion sees no bounds.

jerryphd
Post 19

Don't lie. Anon61492, your statement: "To get 20 foxes, traps may have polished off another 50 non-fox animals, plus a bunch of foxes with damaged coats, all of which are wasted" is a lie! You obviously know nothing about trapping.

The problem with unregulated forums, like this one, is that misinformation is and lies can be written without being challenged.

jerryphd
Post 18

Faux fur is folly! Perhaps it's true that only 1 percent of the world's oil goes into the production of fake fur, but there is no "white-washing" the pollution that is released during the manufacturing process.

Truth: Much of the world fur market could be provided for by simply salvaging North America's road kill.

Truth: Real fur clothing has real value. It is expensive and is often passed down through generations - or at least it used to be.

Truth: Fake fur is cheap. Anyone and everyone can own it. Since it has little real value it is thrown in to landfills without conscience.

Truth: In the landfill, real fur decomposes, where fake fur does not.

There is no good argument for fake fur.

anon73024
Post 17

anon61942 or comment 14: Very well put. I like the way you have articulated thought. We need more people like you to help get rid of this menace.

anon66169
Post 15

Comment 14: The meat that farmed fur bearing animals eat is not human grade meat. So all your calculations are completely wrong.

The meat they are fed are all the left overs that would otherwise go into to landfill. These animal get rid of waste.

Think chicken bones, chicken carcasses, all the bits of the animals that we do not eat and would otherwise go to the tip.

anon61942
Post 14

comment 6 and 12: while your points make sense on a logical level, you need to think about actual numbers. for example, while faux fur requires oil as a raw material (less than 1 percent of global oil is used as feedstock for all plastics by the way, the vast, vast majority is simply burnt as fuel and stopping production of oil-based synthetics tomorrow would have no discernible effect on the demand for oil).

Real fur requires the animals to be fed. Most fur bearers are carnivores, which means they need to eat meat, and lots of it. Meat animals need to be fed plant material. Plants need to be grown, usually using fertilizer and tractors to grow and trucks to transport the grains to their destination. Back of the envelope calculations, 10 percent is the normal conversion efficiency in animals (the amount of body mass gained from a given amount of food is around 10 percent of that foods mass). So a 10 pound fox (around 20 of which are needed to make a coat) may have eaten in its life 100 pounds of chicken meat (probably more), requiring 1,000 lb of corn or soya to grow.

So one coat actually required 20,000 pounds of corn, which all had to be grown, transported, processed and so on and so fourth. Does that 20,000 pounds of corn require less oil and cause less pollution (including the wastes from the chickens and foxes themselves, heating for their housing, transport of their products) than four yards of acrylic faux fur?

I don't know off hand, but you can see from these estimates that it's far from as clear cut as you present it. farming is a major contributor to global warming and other forms of pollution, and any farming which does not contribute to the human food chain should be examined very closely. Especially those which use meat as a feedstock. If you like real fur, use meat-byproduct fur such as rabbit, sheep or goat, which eat plants and whose carcasses provide food for humans, not purpose-grown carnivores like mink or fox which at best are destined to be pet food and at worst, are just destroyed.

As for humane trapping, trapping is not particularly humane at the best of times, and in any case it often has a huge non-target impact, catching and killing among other things endangered birds such as bald eagles. To get 20 foxes, traps may have polished off another 50 non-fox animals, plus a bunch of foxes with damaged coats, all of which are wasted.

anon57416
Post 12

Everyone seems to over look the large problem that faux fur is made of acrylics, and other polymers. These polymers come from such sources as coal, limestone, and petroleum.

The major source is petroleum, and let us not forget petroleum comes from tar sands, and other such sources. Those companies cause substantial amounts of pollution, global warming, and readily use huge supplies of water.

However I do agree that the conditions the animals are put through are not good, but is the pollution of thousands of animals' lives, and the warming of the planet which will kill millions of animals, or the loss of habitat which an oil company moving it killing thousands of animals, worth saving one animal?

I say we improve the conditions of the animals in the farms, making it so they can have an enjoyable life, and then end their life in a humane manner, and that would not be cruel in the least.

They have an amazing life and then it ends. How can that hurt the animal? A cow living on a scratch farm for example would love this life, because they get plenty of room to graze and be with the herd, but the farmer protects them from predators, and when he needs them he kills one, but it will not feel pain and it had a good life.

So join a fashion trend that is taking off, and accusing fur wears of murder, but really faux fur is supporting the murder of millions of animals, and at the very least buying the products of a resource that had to kill thousands of animals to produce this.

Also not all fur comes from farms that treat their animals bad, about a 1/3 of the fur comes from humane trappers. So just think about what you are buying before you jump on the band wagon.

anon55659
Post 11

I am doing a project on endangered animals and i chose the Grevy's Zebra. And people poach these for their fur for fashion. I totally agree with "ElseWhen" the person who posted a comment above me. using fake fur is a great alternate. You don't have to kill it, it's cheaper and looks so real! So why not? -LMT

anon55108
Post 10

The earth is bound to be destroyed, but I don't think that you would like to be stuck in a small cage, hung upside down, watching others before you get skinned plus knowing you will be next and still be breathing, conscious and feel all the pain.

But if you're fine with that, then wear fur that was made out of living, breathing animals that can feel happy, sad, anger and pain just like people then be my guest and have *fun* wearing a coat that many animals had to die for.

anon45775
Post 8

This is for anon28111-this planet is being destroyed in many many other ways! Like anon30679 said watch a video, look at pictures or read up on how these poor animals, dogs and cats in China are being taken from their homes and thrown into small cages cramped with others awaiting their deaths. These animals are being skinned *alive* and are still *breathing* for minutes after their fur has been ripped off of their body and for what? So people can think they look good for wearing real fur on their winter coat! There is no justifiable reason that any animal should have to endure that! Watch a video and then you may have a different outlook. anon1625

anon30679
Post 7

I think people should use faux fur. I saw a video on how this is done and it's sick, cruel and just crazy since there is faux fur. These animals are a part of keeping the earth running and so are humans. You should see the video and you'll never want to wear the real fur again!

anon28111
Post 6

"Synthetic?" "Acrylic?" Does anybody know what that means? I do. Faux fur is made from a mixture of coal, oil, water, and limestone. Coal is a non-renewable resource that must be mined (causing massive damage to the environment) and is the leading one of the causes of air pollution. Oil is a non-renewable resource that must be drilled and refined and is also one of the leading causes of air pollution. Both are also leading producers of greenhouse gases. Limestone must be mined, further causing environmental damage. This is to get the raw materials themselves.

The faux fur must still be artificially processed, a time consuming process that produces chemical waste that is emptied into rivers, stored underground to leach into the soil, an further pollutes the air. Think, this is the process for *all* synthetics, not just faux fur. Nice job, PETA. Why simply kill animals for food and clothing when you can destroy the whole planet?

anon25891
Post 5

Nothing is as warm as *real dead animal skin*. Eskimos don't wear North Face Parkas. They use the real thing, because if they don't, they will freeze to death and die. If you eat meat, you are the *same* as those that wear fur or leather. Do you wear a leather belt? How about *shoes*?! It sure is hard to boycott leather shoes, especially if you have to wear a suit. Well, it is the same as fur.

Real fur is stronger, it is warmer, it is softer, it is heavier, it is gross. It is murder and a carcass on your body. It *works*.

On a motorcycle, nothing protects you like leather. Cordura will melt to your skin and it's slippery so you'll slide three times the distance of leather's braking attributes against asphalt. Leather and fur are *real* and have valid uses. Faux is fake and for fashion.

elsewhen
Post 1

In my opinion, there is no reason to ever use real fur anymore. Real fur made sense when it was the only accessible option for keeping warm and/or looking stylish.

Nowadays, there are so many options for keeping warm, and if you really like the look of fur, the fake fur options look exactly like the real thing.

I am not an animal activist - I think its fine to use animals for our benefit when there aren't alternatives. Considering that in the case of fur, the alternatives are better, cheaper and don't require the killing of animals, why not?

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