Faux fur is the alpha dog of textiles when it comes to it's sculptural and imitative abilities. Knowing its origins, we shouldn't blame it for having a bit of fun now.
Faux fur had a fairly meh start in the 1910’s: just another short-pile-cotton derivative without big dreams. It gained its momentum after the US government strategy against the native people’s ability to trade in furs; a 10% tax on real-fur items was imposed during 1919- 1928, making real fur out of reach for many wholesalers.
Without a ready source of actual fur, existing ‘textured-fabric’ manufacturers began to experiment more with an affordable imitation product.
Sketches by Jade, origin of painting depicting fur trade, unknown
Faux fur became “fun” in 1948 with the introduction of chemical plastic. The colour retentive abilities of these synthetic textiles combined 'with woven design novelties' found their groovy followers.
Shag rugs, and those colourful, experimental fabrics of the 60's were only possible because of the number one element of almost ALL fabrics today; plastic.
Encouragingly, inroads into recycled plastic use for the textile industry, are starting to be made.
A faux fur woman's coat from the 70's, 1970's lucite and faux fur 'diggin' it' chair, from the blog of Belgium's Polyester Princess, her 'Barbie doll', 'Stacey' mimicking 70's fashions with a yellow faux fur jacket and hat, and the 70's vintage Esso Tiger tail with painted faux fur.
Movements promoting the forever-replacement of real fur started earnestly in the 1960’s, opening the possibilities of faux fur in the designer world. Public awareness of animal rights was first introduced by the Audubon Society.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA, 1980) started its ‘I’d Rather Go Naked’ campaign, officially in 1994. Naomi Campbell and Cindy Crawford were the very first of hundreds of actors and celebrities to help bring attention to the animal cruelties within the fur industry.
It was announced in the spring of 2020, PETA has ended its I’d Rather Go Naked campaign due to it’s overwhelming success. The group has said it will now focus their next awareness crusade on the elimination of leather and certain wool use.
Photos of a 1960's fur fashion show and the early beginnings of PETA's awareness campaign, circa 1990. (Blk/wht photo source unknown, PETA campaign photo by Greg Gorman)
"California will be the first state to ban the sale and manufacture of new fur products and the third to bar most animals from circus performances under a pair of bills signed Saturday by Gov. Gavin Newsom. The fur law bars residents from selling or making clothing, shoes or handbags with fur starting in 2023."
Queen Elizabeth announced, in the spring of 2020, her decision to stop wearing real fur.
(Photo by Liudmyla Denysiuk)
The higher the price tag of textile-faux fur, the softer the pile and the more artistic the colouring and texture.
These sumptuous textures with mixes of fine and coarse fibres, short hair, and long wisps create 'biomorphics'; the imitation of real animals, an ironic fur extension look for actual furred animals. See more of Abstract Pet’s Second Fur Collection (Biomorphics) and the Vintage Collection (see Leonard in his Vintage Faux Lynx ruff below) within the Abstract Pet Ruffs ™ product line.
Wide ranging design capabilities of faux fur are now celebrated within the world’s major fashion houses.
The imagined designs of contemporary textile artists have elevated a once imitative product of the 20's to one that promotes artistic creativity, design, and well... fun.
Do not Use a Dryer or Electric Heat. ...a helpful tip. Synthetics (acrylics) have a fairly low-temperature melting point. As proof, we need only to look at the partially fused throws, pillows and winter hoods that litter second-hand clothing outlets. While, not readily flammable, they are melt-able.
Avoid washing machines and dryers. Spot wash, using a combination of white vinegar, baking soda, and a 1/2 drop of dish soap (or similar) Use a pet comb to direct the fur. Dry-cleaning larger throws is an alternative, but should be a last resort.
An important addendum: Small amounts of dry-cleaner's chemicals will stay on the fur which can cause a reaction for people and pets. Make sure you favour a 100% natural dry-cleaner.
The effect of a washing machine and dryer on faux fur. Scooter wearing White Cool, from the 'Second Fur Collection.'
Plastic will never be eradicated from the textile industry; it's qualities serve a valuable purpose for manufacturers and a world of consumers.
The awareness of the worldwide plastic problem has some companies pushing to find manufacturing simplifications that allow recycled plastic to become a very real aspect of textiles.
I use only the highest quality faux furs chosen for their softness and contemporary colours with an artistic bent. Although I try hard to sustainably source locally, most of my luxury furs are imported (and the lower-cost faux furs may mean their manufacturing is less planet friendly?)
Read more about my commitment to sustainability on the next blog post ‘Not So Fun: Pla-Stic Really has Stuck Itself to the World’.
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