Image copyright Humane Society International/ UK Image caption This 30 jumper, made of 80% viscose and 20% elastane according to the label, is adorned with mink pom-poms, laboratory tests indicate

Fashion’s obsession with fur means it’s everywhere – luxuriously soft pom-poms perching on top of woolly hats, hanging from scarves and handbags, even hanging off keyrings. But can you tell whether the bobble on your new hat is made from fake fur or the real thing?

Most embellishments are made from faux fur – synthetic fibres designed to look and feel like animal fur – and sold as such.

But the “tragically cheap” cost of real fur means that is not always the case and people who think they are wearing fake fur may not be.

There has not been a fur farm in the UK since they were banned in 2003, but it’s not illegal to wear fur.

Some shoppers however, cite ethical reasons for not buying it.


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“We know the vast majority of British people don’t want to buy fur ethically and morally, but we are seeing an increase in it on our streets, ‘ says Claire Bass, director of Humane Society International UK.

“Consumers are being duped into buying real animal fur.”

She adds: “Fur is tragically so inexpensive. It can be produced for the same or less than the cost of fake fur.”

As part of an awareness campaign, the charity carried out laboratory tests on three items being sold as faux fur this winter, and detected them to be made of mink, fox and rabbit.

Image copyright Humane Society International/ UK Image caption The label in this 26.99 hat says “mixed wool” but lab tests pointed to real fur, most consistent with fox. This 15 scarf is described as 100% viscose on the label but testing suggested the pom poms were rabbit fur

Most high street stores have fur-free policies, but adornments and trims from rabbits, puppies, raccoons, foxes and minks are appearing on clothes sold on marketplace stallings, by smaller independent retailers and online.

Often the dealers themselves do not know it is real fur, says Ms Bass, and it is assumed to be fake.


How to spot the difference…

Separate the fur at the base. If it’s fake, you will see the cloth webbing. If it’s real, it will be attached to skin The burn exam: Clip off the tip of the fibres and set light to them. If they melt like plastic, it’s fake. If they singe and smell of burning hair, it’s real The price: It is so inexpensive to make real fur in China, for example, that it can be cheaper than the fake stuff By touch: Today’s fake fur can be of such good quality that it can be difficult to tell them apart Read the label: Complicated labelling regulations are often flouted and the label only has to reflect 80% of the item’s composition so a fur trim is a possibility omitted. Labelling laws do not apply to accessories such as shoes and handbags Image caption David’s daughter opts for the knitted pom-pom Image caption The raccoon fur bobble sent David’s pet terrier ‘wild’