Historical Fur Fashion
In the beginning there was the “Fur Coat”… It was available in mink, beaver, and raccoon. Once a consumer decided what type of fur they wanted, they simply had to decide if they wanted a long or short coat, and whether they wanted dark brown or light brown. Those days have passed. In the 1960's and 70's leather accents and stripes were added with large notch collars, but the color choices remained about the same. By the early 1980's designers started to expand their vision and experiment with a great many new ideas. They stopped thinking of fur as just an extreme cold weather coat and began using it as a material to be integrated into the fashion world. Remember big shoulder pads, small stand-up collars, and bright color splashes? It was all part of bringing fur out of the mundane and onto the fashion runway. Throughout the late eighties and nineties fur fashion continuously evolved and became more mainstream. No longer reserved for the rich and famous, fur as a material, began to branch out of the winter outerwear stereotype, into everyday wardrobes. Fashion design schools added fur material to their curriculum and professional designers started to experiment with fur working techniques like never before. Many coloring and dying methods were adopted from other textile industries. Furs, like never before started to become an integral part of fashion.
Current Fur Fashion
Fur is everywhere! It's in fashion magazines in the middle of the summer. Fur is on fashion runways, in boutique windows, and in catalogs. Fur is seen on Hollywood stars, music artists, politicians, and media celebrities. Fur can be found on women at high society events, dance clubs, local restaurants, shopping malls, at the movies, and even grocery stores. A research survey that began in 1991 has shown since that time, fur sales, both worldwide and in the USA , have steadily increased with no signs of waning. In 1985 there were 42 designers working with fur, today there are over 400 renowned fashion designers working with this highly coveted luxury fabric. Their innovations in design manufacturing techniques have brought an infinite number of choices to the consumer to fit any sense of taste, lifestyle or event.
Fur Fashion Trends
Fashion Trends come and go, usually in the form of accents and features in addition to body styles. Fur material itself will never go out of style. People have been wearing fur since the beginning of humankind and wearing it for the purpose of fashion since the 1600's. But accents such as belts, oversized collars, big shoulder pads, large sweeps, and color splashes can be “in” one year and “out” the next. Fashions which never seem to go out of style, are straight bodies and sleeves, medium sized collars and deep, rich colors (black, all shades of brown and grey, and white). Bold and vibrant colors can be fashionably long-lasting until you start to mix them up in one article of clothing. For example, a solid green jacket may be fashionably acceptable for many years but, a green jacket with orange stripes down the sleeves might be dated the following season. This means, if you want your fur fashion purchase to stand the test of time, try to avoid embellished or exaggerated designs, features and colors. Think of a classic trench coat, they have changed little over the past 5 or 6 decades, but occasionally designers will embellish them with a rain catcher flap across the chest or add a couple extra sets of buttons. While these features may be fresh and new at the time, chances are good they will outdate the garment very quickly. When choosing your fur decide whether or not you want to be on the cutting edge of fashion or would like something a little more timeless . The safe bet is to buy fashion, not a trend.
Fur Fashion Function and Your Lifestyle
Fur is an essential part of a fashionable wardrobe and when to wear it is not dictated by season or temperature. Any fashion item that can be purchased in cotton, silk or any other material is usually available in fur in one variation or another. Today, there are no rules. Furs don't need to be saved for a special occasion or formal event. These modern and highly fashionable times make fur more versatile. A full-length fur coat can be worn with slacks for a casual dinner and movie or with an evening gown to attend a charity ball. A mink bomber jacket or fox bomber jacket can be worn to run errands and a lighter weight or shorter fashion jacket can be worn to a dance club. Fur-trimmed fashion, such as; suits with a mink fur collar, jackets with fox fur cuffs, dresses with fur embellishments and even blue jeans with fur pockets or fur stripes, as well as fur accessories , fur purses and fur handbags, can be worn or carried any time of the year.
Season and temperature do not dictate whether it's time to wear fur (and there definitely doesn't have to be snow on the ground). Many fur fashions are sold in areas of the United States with warm climates. People in these areas understand that fur is a fashion option for their wardrobe and not just to be worn as a winter coat or winter jacket. They know that it need not be snowing to wear fur. When it gets down to 50ºF in the evening they understand that it is cold enough to warrant a warmer outer layer of clothing, and fur is a fashionable choice. In the evenings when it is just chilly enough to take along a sweater you could be putting on a fur shawl, blue fox crop jacket , or fur vest instead. The question “Is it cold enough to wear a fur?” is obsolete. Rather, ask “Is it cold enough to be wearing a coat or jacket?” If the answer is “yes” then choose between nylon or fur depending on whether the activity is hiking or lunch at a street side cafe. If the purpose of your purchase is to function as a winter coat, then a fur is definitely the right choice. Once again fur has been the choice for cold weather protection for centuries and no modern synthetic material can compare to the look, feel and warmth.
When choosing a look you must consider the hair length of the fur. Keep in mind that longer fur is not synonymous with warmth due to varying thickness and density of different fur types. However, the fur length does contribute greatly to the style of the garment. Shorter hair fur such as mink, has a cleaner more subtle look, giving the design a sleek style. Whereas, longer hair furs such as fox, tend to be a little more on the wild side of fashion. The hair length of the fur needs to work with the overall design and your taste. The design, regardless of hair length can dictate the overall image of the fashion. This is to say, that both long and short hair furs can be either elegant or untamed.
Conservative or funky, vibrant or sultry, choose a fur with the look that fits your personality and lifestyle. Ask yourself if you need an all-purpose coat that can be worn to formal events as well as casually? Or will it be for formal occasions only, or casual or everyday wear only? A full-length coat can be worn to a formal occasion as well as be dressed down for casual affairs. Car Coats and City Coats (See our Fur FAQs section for terminology definitions) can be dressed up or down very easily. They are also very practical in a culture that gets in and out of cars all day long. Jackets are also easy to dress up but don't always work for formal events. Fur bomber jackets are great for everyday wear and are very comfortable and practical, but the zipper closures and elastic cuffs and hem limit them to more casual settings. How active your lifestyle is will be an important consideration when determining what length fur you will purchase.
As with any fashion, the fur you choose should reflect your individuality and sense of fashion.
A Note on Vintage Fur Fashion
The ever-popular “vintage look” is a great style and is in for many people. But when it comes to fur, achieving this look is not usually obtained effectively by purchasing a fur from the 50's, 60's, or 70's. Fur has a useful life expectancy of, at the very most, 30 years. Usually, its practical life is closer to between 5 and 20 years, depending on the type of fur and the fur quality. This means, although one may be able to find very cool vintage styles at a resale shop, the biodegradation will outweigh the style. Rather than having “vintage style” it ends up looking oxidized, faded, and just plain ratty. Think of the difference between a vintage automobile and a rust bucket. Unfortunately a “rust bucket fur” cannot be restored like a car and is better off being retired to the garbage can.
To achieve the vintage look in fur, the best idea is to purchase a new fur with a vintage design. There are many available that use the same patterns from vintage eras, but the material is new so they don't look tired and junky. The inherent problems typical of an old used fur or previously owned fur will also be avoided. (See our Fur FAQs section for more on vintage fur, used fur, recycled fur and previously owned fur.)
Green Energy, Green Cars, Green Homes… and now Green Fashion!
Nothing is more fashionable than “going green” and no other fashion choice is more eco-friendly than Fur.
Fur is a truly sustainable and renewable natural resource with the least amount of environmental impact when compared to all other textile industries. A recent study of consequences from various textiles on the environment was undertaken at Oregon State University . The study included methods to obtain, process, fabricate, maintain and dispose of a broad range of textiles including wool, leather, fur, cotton, silk, linen, rayon, polyester, nylon and acrylic (fake fur is made from nylons and acrylics) were evaluated across a number of environmental variables. In composite scoring across all environmental criteria, the farmed and wild fur outperformed ALL other textiles for Environmental Compatibility.
In addition, the fur industry upholds the balance of nature by actually helping to sustain wildlife environments. Humans and the fur industry are a p opulation control component of the eco-structure. Wildlife biologists and wildlife management officials agree that furbearers are so abundant in the U.S. today that overpopulation poses a threat to their own welfare as well as others. Failure to properly manage these populations will result in disaster for the animals, their habitats and the people who must share space with them.
The fur industry has an unprecedented respect for animals and the land. They understand, in much the same way as the American Indians, that humankind is one with the land and wildlife, and if they harm it, they harm themselves. Only the healthiest and best cared for animals produce the finest pelts suitable for fur fashion. It is precise attention to animal care, good nutrition, comfortable housing, and prompt veterinary care that produce the quality of fur that is demanded in today's marketplace.