The first March Fur Madness is here ladies and gents and MLFurs has compiled the sweet 16 winners of fur types! We thought that by putting together these brackets of the top and most commonly used types of fur that we could expand your knowledge base of what certain animals are, where they originate, and why their fur is the best for wear. Remember that all fur garments should be well taken care of and maintained, that means cleaning and glazing every year, along with storing them during the hot and dry spring and summer months, ensuring proper upkeep. Throughout the next week, we will be playing the game to see who is going be the victor, our number one fur that you should not be without!
Nutria – The nutria is the South American cousin of the beaver! The nutria was brought to the United States and placed in swamps to decrease the population of the muskrat. Nutria can be sheared, plucked, and dyed in an assortment of colors from black to brown and many others. Nutria is a very warm fur and can be used for many different things, such as vests, linings, and luxury coats. The New York Times reported on a “righteous fur” fashion show in November 2010 using Nutria in order to regulate the overpopulated nutrias in the swamps of Louisiana.
Beaver – Indigenous to mainly North America and the best beaver comes from Canada, the Northern United States and Alaska. They have a wide range of color, many variations of brown, gold, and even a silvery hue, but beaver should never have a red cast. Natural Beaver has long guard hairs giving the fur a natural lustrous sheen to it. In current fashion, beaver is sheared to a soft velvety pile making it more alluring, modern, and lightweight while still warm. Beaver is extremely durable, and many fur manufacturers and fur designers dye the skins into a rainbow of colors for modern day wear.
Mink - The most classic of fur types, mink also stems from the weasel family. Wild in nature and found all over the world especially North America, the majority of mink are ranched raised and done so humanely and scientifically. Depending on where the minks are raised they often eat by-products from that region, but mainly they are raised in coastal areas, therefore they are fish fed. Female minks are superior to male minks in that they are smaller, silkier, and lighter, but just as warm. Depending on the quality and craftsmanship, mink coats are amazingly durable and can be worn for twenty years if taken care of properly. The versatility of mink is exceptional because it can be worked into the fur garment in a number of ways. Colors vary from Natural Ranch Mink which should have a lustrous sheen on top, and the underfur should be dense and paler in color to mutation mink from being ranch raised. Like beaver, mink can be dyed into a multiplicity of colors.
Weasel – Weasels come from many countries such as North America, South America, China, etc. and can come in a variety of skin colors, but will normally have a mixture of white with a black-tipped tail. Weasels were once used as fur for royalty and is fine and of good quality. Their fur is soft, lightweight and can be dyed or left to their natural colors. Male weasel’s hair is so fine that they can be used in paintbrushes. The weasel’s wear for around five to eight years, so be sure to clean and store your coat properly for assured beauty.
Rabbit – Rabbits come in different shapes and sizes and most importantly, different types of fur. Some have satin fur, wool fur, and there is even a Rex rabbit. Rabbit is known to be able to imitate just about any other fur and can go through different processes such a being plucked, sheared, dyed, or even just left in it’s natural state. Rabbit must be labeled as such so you know what fur you are purchasing since Rex rabbit can resemble chinchilla with it’s silky and dense fur.
Chinchilla – The chinchilla is a rodent who is indigenous of the Andes in South America. The rodent has a blue-gray color to it and was so popular, that they almost became extinct in the early 1900s. America imported pairs of chinchillas to breed here and are now farmed. The fur of a chinchilla is extremely lustrous and soft, it also has the most dense fur of any animal and grows more hair in each follicle than a human.
Marten – A member of the weasel family along with minks and sables, martens indigenous to either Russia or Canada are actually Sables. Marten fur need regular care and treatment to keep continuously wear well and stay fluffy! Genuine Marten, America, Baum, and Stone Marten stem from different regions of the world and also vary in color. American Marten, the least expensive of the family range from blue brown to dark brown. Both Baum and Stone Marten inhabit regions of Europe, Asia Minor, and the Himalayas. Stone Martens have a much finer fur than Baum, and a more unique color often a bluish cast and the underfur is whitish. Baum Martens are mostly brown and dyed to look like sable.
Sable –The top of the weasel family and the most coveted fur is sable. Sables are actually Marten, the most expensive and most luxurious stemming from the Barguzin Valley of Russia. Russian sables are the densest and silkiest also possessing silver tipped guard hairs versus Canadian sables. Most sables are brown with a blue cast with the exceptions of golden sables which are red or amber. Paramount, sables are wild protected in preserves, and occasionally ranched.
Raccoon – The raccoon is an American animal who can be found everywhere including southern Canada. The further north this animal inhabits, the thicker and longer it’s hair becomes. Raccoons can have hair that is long and silver in color with black tips and gray shades with rings around their tales. Raccoons can be sheared and dyed, but must be taken care of or the fur will start to matt. Like the chinchilla, the raccoon has been sent in pairs to Russian forests where they are growing larger in number.
Fisher – is a part of the Marten family, and the American cousin to the Russian Sable. Beautiful, soft, silky, durable and range in color from black to brown. The most coveted are the females, in a chocolate brown color. Rick Owens notable fashion forward fashion designer who has a fur line, often works incorporates the luxurious fisher fur into his garments.
Coyote – North American natives, the coyote is a fur that no one thought would be of any worth because their history of. Coyotes have long hair and are a resilient and warm fur for any man or woman.
Fox – Whether it’s Blue, Cross, Gray, Kitt, Platina, Red, Silver or White, Fox is found all over the world and distinctively in many aforementioned natural colors. Sought after for its long distinctive hair and color variation, fox remains one of the most fashionable types of furs which wears well and requires regular cleaning and care to keep fur fluffy as well as keeping the skins soft and supple. Originally wild and trapped, fox became farmed mostly in the United States, but now they are mostly raised Scandinavian, namely Norway, as well as Northern Europe, and Russia. Silver Fox and Platina Fox developed from mutations after many generations of fox ranching.
Adding Fox to any fur garment adds allure, fashion, and of course warmth. Fox trims have certainly made a comeback in the last 5 years from the runway to the traditional fox trim fur coat.
Ermine – Known as the fur of royalty, and in the famed Frank Sinatra Song “The Lady is a Tramp,” Ermine comes from the weasel family, yet has chameleon like qualities making it virtuous and pure. The best ermine inhabit Russia and other parts of the former Soviet Union, and the animal is also found in Northern Canada. Due to the ermine’s ability to change colors, they are only trapped in mid-winter when the coat becomes the snowiest white versus the browning gray summer color. (Show Queen Elizabeth ii)
Squirrel – – Just about every country has squirrels, but the best of the best for fur comes from Siberia. This fur is normally left natural for the beauty of the blue and gray color. Squirrels from the United States are not used for fur unlike places like Canada where brown squirrels come from. The squirrel’s fur is normally soft and lustrous with a dense texture.
Lynx – The lynx can be found in Europe, Canada, and the United States in the northern and central parts. A lynx has long hair and is a light color with speckled fur. Each lynx can be marked differently and can be seen in the difference between the American lynx with more spots and the Canadian lynx, which has smoother and more subtle markings.
Lipi Cat – The lipi cat is also known as the Chinese leopard cat and can be found in eastern and southern Asia and in China’s Yunnan Province. The lipi cats’ fur is dense and soft, with beautiful color and markings that resemble those of the leopard. Be careful if you ever come across one, the lipi cat can often be mistaken it for a domestic cat.