Stroll into your average high street store during the winter season and you are likely to meet a number of controversial types of clothing materials. Materials such as wool, leather, fur and suede are incredibly popular and widely available during the winter months. A simple winter hat with a fluffy pom-pom may contain traces of real animal fur. If you want to avoid innocently buying into unethical fashion, consequently supporting cruelty then you need to pay attention to what you are buying and how to identify the differences between animal skins and their ethical alternatives.
Identifying the Difference between Real Fur and Faux Fur
Worryingly, avoiding real fur with the intention of buying a faux alternative is not as simple as looking out for a big label stating ‘faux fur’. Unfortunately, some items made from imitation fur can contain traces of real animal fur, which is unfair on the side of the manufacturer if the consumer is making a conscious effort to avoid real fur! Not many years ago, faux fur was easily identified simply by giving the garment a quick look over and feeling the quality of the material. Just as little as 5 years ago, vegan fur was coarse, dry and by no means as soft as real fur. Nowadays, vegan fur is often softer and fluffier than real fur, which has helped to inspire many keen fur-wearers to switch to wearing faux fur. Real fur is possibly one of the most barbarically obtained animal skins, due to the fact that the animals are often skinned alive and left to die afterwards. So with that said, you will probably want to avoid buying real fur at all costs, so here are some ways in which you can determine whether you’re looking at real animal fur or a vegan/cruelty-free version:
· As mentioned above, real fur is no longer noticeably softer than faux fur alternatives. These days it is often vegan fur that is softer than real animal fur so don’t let this confuse you.
· Similarly, don’t let the colour of the fur fool you. Faux fur can easily be dyed and comes in a range of colours and shades. So don’t judge purely on its colour.
· Look at the ends of the fur. Usually real fur tapers to a fine point at the ends, whereas faux fur is choppier and the ends are not so neatly defined.
· If possible (very carefully) burn a few small strands of the fur. Faux fur will have a chemical smell, but if it smells like burning human hair then it is real animal fur.
· Look carefully at the label on the garment. Sometimes hidden in the small print on a label, you will see that the item is made from e.g. 75% polyester and 25% mink (or another animal) fur.
Vegan Alternatives to Animal Leather
At this time of year, items such as leather riding boots and leather jackets are highly popular choices to add to our winter outfits. Unfortunately real leather is not an ethically sourced material, but don’t panic – there are a number of fantastic ethical and sustainable alternatives to leather, such as:
· Mushroom Skin
· Pineapple Skin Leather
Popular Materials and Fibres that are NOT Cruelty-Free
· Suede Leather
Popular Materials and Fibres that are Cruelty-Free and Ethical