Real or faux fur? Could you spot the difference?

Charlotte Horlock

fur clothing coat

Hitting the news recently it’s been reported that fashionistas are unknowingly buying real fur, despite the labels assuring them it’s fake.

With over 24 percent of UK households now owning a pet dog or cat, it’s fair to say that we as a nation love our four-legged friends. So what would you do if you found out your faux fur was in fact real – and came from the skin of a tortured animal?

Real fur products are imported cheaply into the UK from manufacturers in the Far East, mainly China and India. Cats, dogs and other small mammals are skinned alive or anally electrocuted, all for the sake of fashion. These products have been sneaking into the mainstream under the guise of ‘faux’; and with cheap buys or ‘fast-fashion’ on the rise, faux fur is in demand more than ever before.

On April 10, Sky News reported that retailer Missguided has been selling footwear made from what they claimed to be fake fur, but was confirmed by an expert to be cat fur. Other mislabelled products were found in shops across the country, including Urban Outfitters, who were made to publicly apologise after selling real fur sweaters.

Footwear expert Susannah Davda of The Shoe Consultant believes that Missguided’s labelling issues could have been prevented. She states, “Retailers need to ensure they have correct information about their entire supply chain.

“This is much easier to achieve when they have personnel based in the Far East factories, and are not sourcing through third party suppliers. Proper quality control needs to be put in place either in the factory, or at the UK distribution centre. This is how such issues are spotted by other companies before these products go on sale.”

fur clothing cats


If the products do slip through the net, how can you, the consumer, distinguish between real and faux fur? Animal rights organisation PETA recommends separating the fur to look at the base.

Genuine fur protrudes from skin or leather, while faux fur generally has a mesh or threaded backing. You can also look at the tips of the hairs. Real animal hairs taper to a fine point unless they have been sheared or cut. But if you have any doubts, simply don’t buy.

It’s not only retailers who need to be aware of the faux fur con. As paying customers, we should be making educated choices about what we buy. Davda explains, “Some younger shoe buyers are oblivious to the issues involved with buying cheap footwear.

“This demographic has fuelled the growth of the disposable fashion retail model. However an increasing amount of young people, and professionals in the 30+ group, are becoming more selective about the retailers they buy from. Quality and sustainability are important to them.”

I can only hope this compassionate attitude paves the way for industries in the future, and makes consumers think before they buy.


Here are three great places in Sussex you can safely buy faux fur from:

1. John Lewis

Where? Horsham
Who? Chain of upmarket department stores that sell just about anything. More commonly known as those guys who make the great adverts.

2. Karen Millen

Where? Brighton Laines
Who? British-based brand with confident women in mind. If you’ve got a little more money to spend, Karen Millen has just abolished fur from all its collections.

3. New Look

Where? Brighton, Worthing, Lewes
Who? Popular high-street retailer with animal welfare at heart. Winner of the 2010 RSPCA Good Business Award for a large fashion company.

About Charlotte Horlock
As a production assistant Charlotte provides extensive support, from the magazines to our websites and client work. She's multi-talented, working on design, editorial, content copy and production. We hope she never leaves us