Fur and how to spot it

We are fast approaching that time of year in the UK when autumn and winter clothes clog up the shops and with it, sadly comes our allocation of Chinese fur.

To give you an example of how endemic this fur is in the UK, over last autumn and winter I did several trolls around my local shops in South London.  Here are the results:

Out of five boutique-type shops (low to mid-range prices), one high street chain, and one crafty type shop, all stocked items from China.  15 items, of which 6 were marked as fur (raccoon dog fur/rabbit fur on the labels), 7 were marked as fake fur, 1 was mislabelled as sheep skin and one wasn’t labelled at all:

Four types of polyester jackets with fur trim around the hood and/or wrists (two labelled 100% polyester!!)

Two pairs of shoes with fur trim (one labelled fake, one not labelled at all)

One scarf completely made of “fake fur” which was not

One scarf with fur trim

Two types of poncho with fur trim (both marked fur but the owner claimed it was second hand rabbit fur – not labelled as such)

Two jerseys with fur trim

One pair of gloves with fur trim

One entire “sheepskin” that appeared to be dog (it wasn’t sheep-shaped for a start) and it was fur rather than pelt – this was at the only chainstore (TK Maxx) that stocked fur even they have a policy not to and yes it was made in China.  Yes they denied it so I went in and had a look myself.  It was not sheepskin.  Didn’t even smell like it.

One skirt with fur trim (yes it was hideous)

One pair of jokey sunglasses, selling for a couple of quid.  Yes it was real fur … a shop called Tiger (crafty/ homewares type shop)

In Brighton, two years ago things were worse:

(i) Every single “second-hand/ vintage” shop  (not charity shops) sold fur items of some description.

(ii) 50% of boutique shops had fur items in them, some marked as such, other marked as fake

(iii) two charity shops out of the 10/12 I visited sold second hand items with fur on them (most charity shops refuse to stock it)

I had to give up going into clothes shops in Brighton in the end.

I have found that the only way to stop shops selling it is to confront them.  Most shops selling it know damn well they are doing so, they simply do not care.

Of all the shops I have confronted, only one has been genuinely horrified and taken the items down without a murmur.  The rest have either laughed, not given a damn, made excuses (the second hand rabbit fur one still makes me sickety LOL) or only given in when we have stood outside their shops and demonstrated.

But – it is possible to rid your local streets of this barbaric product.  Knowing how to tell the difference is vital when deciding whether or not to buy something or if you are feeling particuarly pissed off, confronting a shop owner.  A few words of caution:

(i) If you organise a demo, you cannot go into the shop and start educating people.  You have to stand outside.  One person demos work, as do demos with several people (have done both).

(ii) If you are not demoing however, you can cause a real scene, act disgusted, tell the clients what they are selling and how disgusting it is.  This is really good fun 🙂

How to tell fake fur from real:

(i) Fake fur has a base of material.  Real fur has a skin base.   Part the fur to see the base.  If what you can see looks like leather, it’s fur.  If you pass a pin through it and it’s not easily done, it’s real.

(ii) In most cases, real fur is made up of several different layers (think of a long haired cat) – there is the bottom layer which tends to be fine and slightly crinkly and then the longer layer (which is the bit you can see).  Some cat/ rabbit and dog furs have a third layer which is in between.  If the item is marked as fake, is reasonably priced and has two to three layers, you’ve probably got real fur – look at the base of it.  If what you see looks like leather, you have definitely got fur.

(iii) Because of the layers, real fur sits differently to fake.  Real fur collars around jackets tend to be fuller and the top layer moves more when people walk because real fur is lighter.

(iv) Finally, real fur feels like a cat or a rabbit’s fur.  Fake fur, even the more expensive type) doesn’t feel the same.  If what you feel, feels like an animal, it most likely is.

There is another test – lighting the fur.  Real fur smells like burnt hair, fake smells like plastic but you will probably get into trouble trying this in a shop …

I have not posted links to what happens in China to the animals deeply unlucky enough to die for western wants.  If you are feeling brave enough, google chinese fur but I warn you, the images will stay with you for the rest of your life.

If you are one of those people still so wrapped in yourself that you knowingly go and out buy fur well … shame on you.  I hope it smothers you.

About titflasher

Writer, blogger, animal activist, people activist, dream-catcher maker, mommy to 9 cats and a roving band of foxes ... Blog name comes from my father's suggestion for the title of my autobiography ... after my mother's and my awful habit of flashing whenever the security police took our photo in the dark old days of apartheid South Africa. I love nature, including creepy crawlies and people, find life fascinating and frustrating and have two terrible weaknesses - nictotine and animals in distress ... can't abide the latter situation and can't give up the former. I'm Pagan but not anti-Christian, funny but quite serious, light-hearted but can be annoying. I am warm-hearted until someone p*sses on me too much, then I get soggy and even. Feel free to link me but all the words on these pages is copyrighted, so copy it and take the credit and I will find you and slap you upside the head, hard. The blog is probably best read via category as there is loads on here already, and I just got started :-)
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4 Responses to Fur and how to spot it

  1. paulaannwalker says:

    Simply; thank you. I’vebeen wondering about this and your log is really helpful and important. Thank you.

  2. titflasher says:

    Ah brilliant – thank you xx

  3. Emily Wallis says:

    Hi There,

    I’m posting from the BBC1 series, Fake Britain. We’re interested in exploring the issue of the mislabelling of faux fur and clothes described as 100% polyester but in fact contain real fur. Having been reading your blog post, I would be very keen to have a chat with you to find out if it is still something you are concerned about. I wondered if it would be possible for you to drop me a line at emilywallis@screenchanneltv.co.uk so that we can arrange a time, convenient to you, to speak? Our conversation will of course be kept in strict confidence.

    Many thanks,


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