Everything You Need To Know About Shopping For Faux Fur

Like politics and religion, the discussion of animal fur used as clothing is one that's met with great debate; some can't live without it, while others can't even comprehend wearing it. It's these conflicting opinions that have caused an influx of faux fur (particularly of higher quality) in recent years at both high-end design houses and fast-fashion retailers alike. Today, everyone from Stella McCartney to Zara is selling a repertoire of faux fur jackets, hats, scarves, gloves, and more, proving that you don't need to dish out thousands of dollars for an item that's extra durable, super-warm, and feels good to the touch. (Not to mention it's guilt-free).

With so many options available, though, shopping for the best piece can feel overwhelming. So as winter's peak quickly approaches, we asked five faux fur fashion experts to share their tips and tricks for finding the perfect one for you.
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Understand What You're Buying
Thanks to recent advancements in technology, faux fur is no longer the itchy, rough-feeling fabric that most think of. The quality (in both touch and durability) has significantly improved, providing a super-soft (yet often still affordable) alternative to the real thing.

"With the abundance of high-quality faux fur, you can now wear the trend guilt-free — and it’s no longer considered a cheaper, less-stylish alternative," Topshop's buying director, Emma Fox, tells Refinery29. "Innovation and the highly developed synthetic process used to make faux fur materials often means that it’s very difficult to spot the difference between the real and man-made — and the cost of faux can be as much as a tenth of the price [of real fur], so it’s often significantly more affordable, too!"

Hannah Weiland, founder of popular London-based label Shrimps, agrees, explaining that purchasing a faux fur coat "is similar to buying any investment coat." Aside from being less expensive, it's a "more flexible material for a designer, allowing for more creative experimentation and color," (meaning there's more options for consumers) and is "just as warm, soft, and silky as real fur."

Ainea Black Faux Fur Circle Print Jacket, $555, available at Avenue32.
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Touch It — A Lot
The only way to really get a feel for the quality of the piece is to, well, literally feel it. "You can tell amazing quality faux fur as soon as you touch it," Weiland says. "It should feel smooth and silky, and not have too many bristles coming away onto your hands." Similarly, always look for fibers of different lengths, rather than those that are cut the same, Fox notes. Shorter hairs will molt less than longer ones.

When you feel the piece, it should also move in the same way that real fur does, and "shouldn't be stiff, itchy, or coarse," designer Charlotte Simone, who's best known for her quirky, colorful faux fur accessories, explains. She notes that pieces with layers of padding inside the faux fur (like her own) are especially good choices, since they will have an "extra-plush element."

Charlotte Simone Sass Cap Double Pom Pastel Pink/White, $184.69, available at Charlotte Simone.
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Check The Materials
The most important thing to note when shopping for faux fur is that it has to be soft. And that, of course, is a result of the fabrics it's crafted from. "I look for teddy-bear fabric: cuddly and soft to the touch," Simone says. "Working closely with faux fabrics, I know that quality faux fibers should not molt and should mirror real fur as closely as possible."

If you're not able to touch the garment in person (or simply prefer online shopping versus brick-and-mortar), that's when paying close attention to the materials list is particularly important. "Check the label for acrylics, as these are durable and have fantastic texture," Fox says, explaining that these fibers will maintain the garment's shape, rather than losing its silhouette. Synthetic fibers, like modacrylic and acrylic polyester, will achieve this, too, says Unreal Fur creative director Gilat Shani.

Stella McCartney Fur Free Fur Ivory Ramona Coat, $4,570 $1,828, available at Stella McCartney.
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Avoid Shiny Textures
Outside of the softness and lightness of the fur, the third most important quality to look for is the finish. And one thing the faux fur should not be is shiny, notes Maria Grazi Santi of Italian-based label AINEA.

Fox agrees: "If you’re looking for a piece that resembles the real thing, then I suggest feeling the fabric to ensure it has a smooth finish, as well as a glossy sheen." That way, the items look more natural than manufactured.

Topshop Faux Fur Color Block Coat, $240, available at Topshop.
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Don't Be Afraid To Go Bold
Faux fur allows more room for experimentation with color and pattern than the real thing — and it's those out-of-the-box items that have become incredibly popular over the past few years. So even if you're an all-black-everything girl, when it comes to selecting the right faux fur coat for you, more is actually more.

"Fake fur is so on trend and has been for a few seasons now," Fox says. "There is so much exciting innovation with this fabrication that you can look to either hyperreal styles or amazing experimental techniques that aren't trying to emulate real fur, but instead are frivolous and fun, such as ombré, dip-dyed, prints, and patchwork designs."

Plus, if there's one piece of advice Santi has for choosing a piece, it's this: "Have fun; look for special pieces that can really change your look; and do not go basic." Amen to that.

Shrimps Abatha Two-Tone Faux Fur Coat, $955 $478, available at Net-a-Porter.
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Maintenance Is Major
Buying the right piece is only half the battle. Remember, even though you're not splurging on the real deal, that doesn't mean your faux fur item doesn't require just as much maintenance. "Looking after a faux fur coat is similar to real fur," Weiland explains. "Make sure that you don’t wear it in heavy rain and give it a brush every now and then."

For washing, dry cleaning is definitely your best bet — if you run into a smaller stain or spot, though, hand washing and air drying will do the trick.

Urbancode Color Block Faux Fur Skinny Scarf, $89 $40, available at ASOS.
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