The fashion industry has recently developed more of an effort to create eco-friendly products and reduce the controversial issue of animal cruelty. One such example is faux fur, which many designers are now including because it’s widely regarded as a worthy substitute for real pet fur – but not necessarily by all audiences just yet!
While this product will be well on its way to generating millions of dollars in coming years (especially once millennials enter their peak buying age), there are many people out there who aren’t aware of it yet. This brief overview provides all the necessary information that someone would want to know regarding faux fur.
What Is Faux Fur?
Faux fur is a pile fabric that creates the illusion of animal pelts. Essentially, faux fur consists of polyester, modacrylic, and acrylic fibers blended together to create its furry appearance. Some of the most popular kinds of faux fur include rabbit, fox, and shearling.
Other luxury fabrics for this material are chinchilla, sable, beaver, ermine, marten, lynx, and leopard, among others. Manufacturers use many different materials to create the texture of real fur.
There are three types of faux fur in the market: long pile, medium pile, and short pile. With advancements made by technology these days, it is hard to distinguish between natural animal skins or artificial ones.
Faux fur is an incredibly versatile fabric. It can be used to make functional items like jackets, vests, and shoes, or it could simply serve as a secondary lining for your favorite coat.
The warm nature of the fake fur means that you will never need another winter garment again when temperatures drop. The durability makes this material perfect if something unexpected does occur, so you can count on it to last just as long as real fur.
The possibilities with using faux fur aren’t limited to fashion either. You can make stuffed animals, home decorations like pillows, and bedding as well. The dye is retained no matter how many times you rub your hand across faux fur or wash it. It’s also able to be recycled or reshaped into other items if you desire.
Now that we understand a little more about faux fur itself, let’s look at how it’s made.
How is Faux Fur Made?
Again, with modern technology, almost everything in the process of making faux fur has complete automation. However, there are still necessary steps in the process that produce the look and feel of real fur.
- Different monomers are mixed in a large stainless steel container before being pressurized and heated to high temperatures. A powdery substance is then formed from this solution that dissolves into liquid form when mixed with acetone for further processing.
- Individual fibers are produced once the liquid mixture gets filtered and funneled through spinnerets. Afterward, they can be stretched, cut, and dyed. Backing materials are usually comprised of either cotton or wool that can easily be interlaced with the fabric. Fibers of faux fur are generally attached in one of these three ways: knitting, tufting, or weaving. However, knitting is most commonly used because it’s more cost-effective.
- Finally, the fabric will undergo a heating process to keep its shape, size, and durability. Any loose fibers will also get removed, and chemicals can be added to enhance the texture. Then, the fur is ready to be labeled and shipped to distributors.
Types of Faux Fur
As mentioned earlier, faux fur is meant to resemble the appearance of real fur, along with the texture ( most importantly, the softness). Different kinds and styles are available (as we listed above), but consumers should also know about pile and nap, as each type of faux fur differs.
Earlier, we discussed the “pile” of faux fur to be either short, medium, or long. Pile is another way to refer to the fur, but more notably its softness or length.
Nap means the direction the fur will lean. Depending on the items that clothing designers are making, the combination of materials varies, ranging from 100% polyester or blends of acrylic and polyester.
How can you tell the difference between real fur and faux fur?
Technology can make it quite challenging to tell the difference between real fur and faux fur. However, there are a few ways you can identify them from one another, as we explain in further detail below.
- Generally, real fur will have hairs attached to its natural leather base, whereas fake ones come with a knitted bottom layer.
- You can use a pin to poke through the fabric. Most of the time, if the pin goes through quickly, it’s faux fur. If it’s more challenging, the fur is most likely authentic. ( it has a leather base).
- Running your fingers through real fur and faux fur is another way to identify either one. Real fur can feel softer and a little smoother, and the bottom is thicker. Your hands won’t stick to it either. Conversely, faux fur has more of a coarse feel and can stick to wet hands.
- Taking a hair or two from each one and burning it can help you identify which one you have too. Real fur won’t smell like plastic or acrylic burning.
- The easiest way is just to check the label, as it’s required by law to provide this information.
Why is Faux Fur Bad for the Environment?
There has recently been a considerable debate over which one is better for the environment: real fur or faux fur. Since it comes from plastics or acrylics, it can have a negative impact on our planet. There can also be toxins found in certain materials that can adversely affect our health as well.
These synthetic substances can also have tiny pieces of plastic that can seep into the environment when they get washed. It could easily be seen as a food source for ocean animals, which could have a major impact on the food chain as well.
How Long Does it take Faux Fur to Biodegrade?
Although not super quick, real fur will eventually break down as part of a natural process in the environment. However, some studies suggest that it could take hundreds of years for faux fur to biodegrade. As a result, precious space in landfills could be used up by switching to this synthetic fur alternative.
Is Faux Fur Vegan?
Knowing if faux fur is vegan or not can be a little tricky. Fake fur can be made from both animal and plant materials. Some examples include cocoons, silk fibroin produced by certain insect larvae to form their own fabric-like material called “cocoon”, which is then used in the production process for garments like dresses or coats through sewing techniques such as thermal bonding with human hair.
However, it’s not always easy to tell if any traces of real furry animals are mixed into these synthetic fibers, since they often contain chemicals that imitate skin texture.
Now that you’ve learned all about faux fur, it should be a little easier to find the perfect items for your home and wardrobe. But, of course, just like anything else, you want to make sure you invest in the highest quality materials when you’re considering a purchase.