While vintage furs may not be all the rage today with the dawn of animal rights and faux furs, they were the epitome of glamour and wealth at many points in history. In addition, fur coats, blankets, muffs, hats, and other accessories were necessary as a way of life to stay warm.
Many of the coats found by thrifters or estate sale goers are not real, but if you would like to know how to identify if what you have is a rare gem keep reading.
The first step is to identify if what you have is even an authentic vintage coat, you can read our article here on how to identify vintage clothing but generally speaking there are three main things you should look for:
- Made in the U.S.A label
- If not made in the U.S the item will most likely be made in Hong Kong or even a county that may not exist
- Many vintage items have the year they were made on the label
- Look at the style of the coat, some eras had very specific styles
- Check out the brand name, many vintage furrierrs are no longer in businness, so this is often a tale tale sign
Once you know that what you’ve found is truly vintage you now want to make sure it’s actually real fur (or faux if you don’t want to have fur in your wardrobe).
Here are a couple of steps you can take when trying to identify if something is real vintage fur:
1. Speak to an expert
While many people don’t want to spend the money to get a coat appraised it is possible as there are people that can determine if a fur is real or fake for you.
Another option is to take your fur coat to the dry cleaners because you are going to have the item dry cleaned the person will have to first detect if it is real or fake as the cleaning process is different for each. You should be aware that if your item is real the dry cleaning process can come with a pretty hefty tag.
How much does it cost to get a fur coat appraised? Fur appraisals usually cost between $30-$80
How much does it cost to get my fur coat cleaned? Depending on the length and type of fur the average cost to have a fur coat cleaned is about $50-$125
Here are a couple of places to start for appraisal
2. Look at the labels
If your fur item has a label, then this is by far the easiest way to determine if your coat is faux or fur. Many times the label will say 100% mink or what type of fur it is. If it is not it will most likely be a blend of fabrics like polyester.
After 1951, any genuine fur sold in the United States must carry a Fur Label Authority (FLA) tag to guarantee its authenticity.
3. Look for the brand
There are several companies that have gone out of business years ago and if you are lucky enough to have an item with the brand label still attached then it will be extremely beneficial. There are some brands associated with faux fur or genuine fur.
Here are some popular vintage fur brands:
- De Carlis
- Dennis Basso
- Gianfranco Ferre
- Marvin Richards
- Pierre Cardin
- The Evans Collection
4. Feel the fur
Most real fur is extremely soft to the touch, unlike faux fur which can be somewhat rough at times. It is also extremely smooth and passes through your fingers easily.
When you roll the fur between two of your fingers it rolls smoothly and returns to its initial pattern easily. Whereas if you rolled faux fur between your fingers it may not return to its original pattern, may feel stiff, may stick together, or stick to your fingers.
5. Burn it
Not the entire piece of course but pluck a couple of pieces of the fur (3-4 strands) and burn them on a flame-proof item. If it is real fur it will singe and smell like burnt hair. If it is faux fur, it will smell like melted plastic and melt like plastic (curl up)
6. Determine the type
While this is more of a job for an expert, the Marc Kaufman website can help identify the type of fur you have.
Some popular types are:
- vintage mink coat
- vintage fox fur coat
- vintage rabbit fur coat
How to buy real vintage fur coats
If you are a fur coat or fur collector some great places to seek them out are:
|GUARD HAIRS: These are the softer and usually more delicate hairs that lay over the undercoat.|
|PELT: The skin of the animal|
|PILE: The “pile” is used to describe the direction of the hair growth|
|UNDERCOAT: This is the area nearest to the skin of the animal, it is usually extremely thick and a lot denser than the topcoat|