Runways in New York, Paris, Milan and London this winter shared one look in common—synthetic fur made from plastic. And synthetic fur is back this spring, with brighter hues and wilder patterns and textures.
How Synthetic Fur Got Its Start
Modern synthetic furs trace their origins to the mid-1950s, with the introduction of acrylic fibers as replacements for alpaca hair. These plastic fibers were a significant advancement because they could provide the bulk required to imitate real fur without the weight associated with other faux fur fabrics. These synthetic fibers were also easier to color and texture than alpaca fibers, allowing the plastic faux fur to reproduce the colors and patterns of real animals.
More Advances in Faux Fur
Plastic producers later that decade found that acrylic fibers could be made even more fur-like and fire resistant by mixing them with other types of plastic. These new “co-polymers,” called modacrylics, are now used to create the primary plastic fiber in synthetic fur.
Benefits of Synthetic Fur
Faux fur is not only an animal-free fashion option, it’s far more innovative, adaptable and fashion-forward than real fur. Modacrylic and acrylic fibers are lightweight and springy, imparting a fluffy quality to the garment. These plastic fabrics also are highly resistant to heat, sunlight, soot and smoke—and unlike real fur, you can throw them in the washing machine.
Synthetic Fur on the Runway
Donna Karan’s DKNY spring 2010 collection featured a metallic faux-fur wrap coat while Dolce & Gabbana paired cherry-red leopard print shorts with a chunky red synthetic fur jacket. Synthetic fur turned up on cold-weather items like mittens and boots but also made its way down the runway on clutches and even headbands. We hope this is long-lasting trend!