Solving the Fur, Faux and Real, Dilemma

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By Laura Shanahan

Would you rather go naked than wear fur, as per the models in the famous anti-fur ad campaign? (I always had a problem with that question: Does it have to be either/or? Can’t I just choose to wear, y’know, regular clothes?)

Well, whether you wouldn’t dream of wearing fur—or dream of wearing fur—this season has seen an explosion of both faux and for-real versions; particularly, though, of the former. You know your position, so pick your preference.

Problem is, you may not always know what you’re buying, and price can be an inaccurate indicator. Case in point: I spotted a pair of plush animal-print earmuffs selling in Midtown for $7.99, about as low-ball a figure as you can find. “Faux fur” read the affixed sticker. Would there be any doubt in your mind that given the price and the sticker, these are indeed a pretend product?

Of course not—but there should be. Upon careful inspection, I noticed a sewn-in label stating “100 percent rabbit fur, made in China.” Yeeks. I pointed out the problem to the seller who seemed dismayed, but not surprised: “Rabbit is cheap,” she shrugged. How sad is that? The life of a sentient creature: cheap; cheaper than polyester pile.

I’m not singling out any one seller for two reasons: The problem is not limited to a single merchant and, second, the fact that the earmuffs’ contradictory sewn-in tag wasn’t snipped out suggests there was no deliberate subterfuge. The takeaway here is caveat emptor. Read all labels, trust your instincts and know that the more established and reputable a brand and retailer are, the likelier it is that you’re buying what you think you are.

A fabulous source of top-name faux-fur finds is Bolton’s. Have you also overlooked this humble but quintessential circa-40-year-old local discount chain (easily predating, in Manhattan, Loeh
mann’s, T.J. Maxx and other more out-there names)? It wasn’t until our recent biannual pilgrimage to the nonpareil jewelry department at Bergdorf Goodman that I found myself, after a long hiatus, peeking into the nearby Bolton’s at 27 W. 57th.

Yowza: Calvin Klein earmuffs fashioned of chocolate-and-gold-spotted pretend fur attached to a leather-like band for just $19.99—the manufacturer’s suggested retail price-tag of $40 is still attached. Klein’s kind-to-animals version sports a discreetly sized gold-metal plaque bearing his name on one side of the band.

Prefer earmuffs in a solid black? Another Klein version here for the same price has the band and ear coverings wrapped in a velvety rich facsimile of beaver pelt; just so you know, the plaque is a bit buried in this model’s piled band.

Evelyn K weighs in with a circular 30-inches-all-around “eternity scarf”—yup, big enough to lasso some waistlines—in a kitten-soft black, brown and coffee-colored plush pile that’s pure Polly Esther; $7.95.

For all-over warmth, consider the spectacular Jones New York whiskey-colored mink-look-alike coat with fit-and-flare shaping, thanks to the multi-tiers sewn in below the waist. This glamorous, approximately knee-length garment has the practical, updating feature of a hood. Its already low price of $159.99 is further discounted 20 percent (perhaps more by the time you read this), and that includes the usual luxury touch of spare buttons.

Are you also kicking yourself for habitually zipping past Bolton’s en route to flashier/newer/trendier stores? Personally, I’m going to wear a (faux) hair shirt.

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