With the cold weather drawing in, coats, hats and scarves featuring a furry trim are a popular choice for style-conscious shoppers wanting to keep warm.
But an animal welfare charity has warned thousands of shoppers could be unknowingly buying real fur wrongly labelled as ‘fake’.
According to Humane Society International (HSI), it is not uncommon for manufacturers to mislabel their products in a bid to lure in ethical shoppers.
Here, their team of experts reveal how carefully checking the ends and tips of the fur – and even conducting a rudimentary burn test – can help you decide whether it is real or synthetic.
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Real or fake? Faux fur will be attached to a fabric backing, identified by its weave look. At the base of real fur, there will be an animal’s skin making it easy to spot (file photo)
1. Check the ends of the fur
Real fur tends to taper to a point at the end of each strand, whereas the tip of faux fur tends to be blunt where it has been cut in the manufacturing process.
Note: This is not fool-proof because any real fur that has been sheared will not be tapered – but this is the exception, not the rule.
2. Check the base of the fur
Part the hairs at the very base of the fur. Faux fur will be attached to a fabric backing, identified by its weave look. At the base of real fur, there will be an animal’s skin (leather).
Is it real fur?
1. Check the ends of the fur
2. Part fur and check the base
3. Conduct a burn test
3. The burn test
You can’t do this test in store, but if you already own the item, then simply burning a small sample of a few hairs can be helpful.
If it’s real animal fur, it will singe and smell like burnt human hair, whereas if it’s fake, it will melt and curl into tiny balls, and smell like burnt plastic.
Shoppers should only conduct the burn test in a safe environment, and on a small sample cut from the main item.
Could you spot the difference? Real fur (left) tends to taper to a point at the end of each strand, whereas the tip of faux fur tends to be blunt where it has been cut in the manufacturing process as shown in this image from animal welfare charity HSI
HSI is rolling out its #WhatTheFur campaign across all 103 Lush stores in the UK to make shoppers aware they could be misled into buying real fur falsely labelled as fake.
The charity is also calling calling on the government to retain a UK import ban on animals killed for their fur during Brexit negotiations with a new online petition.
They want the government urgently to enact a more transparent labelling law so that shoppers know what they are buying.
Claire Bass, HSI UK’s executive director, said: ‘People have a misconception that real animal fur is some sort of luxury item, that it’s really expensive, but actually the grim reality is that life on fur farms is so cheap that real fur can be made more cheaply than fake fur.’
Shocking truth about trendy fur
An estimated 110,000,000 animals are killed on fur farms every year.
The government ordered the last UK fur farm to close its doors in 2002, but fur from a coyote, a fox or a raccoon dog, can still be imported to the UK.
Claire Bass of HSI said: ‘We see a major disconnect there. If we consider fur farming too cruel to allow in our country, then why are we paying countries overseas to ship this product into the UK?’
A caged fox on a fur farm in Quebec. Despite a ban on fur farms in the UK, the government still allows fur to be imported from other countries
The UK trade information database shows that almost £4.5 million worth of fur products were imported into the UK from Poland in 2016.
Europe-wide exports value over €994 million, with Italy, Greece, France, Germany and the UK reporting the highest export value.
Despite a ban on fur farms, the UK is one of the largest exporters of fur in Europe, exporting over €25 million pounds worth of garments per year.
The UK imported over £4.5 million worth of fur skins, and clothing items from China in 2016.