From medieval period, we humans have been using animal fur for the purpose of clothing. Thus killing animals for getting their fur. This practice is facing opposition from animal lovers and environmentalists as it poses threat of disappearance of many species of animals. Therefore in order to overcome this problem “Fake Animal Fur” was invented.
In appearance and feel it exactly matches with real fur. It is made up of processed and dyed polymeric fibers. After the process of processing and dyeing, the fabric is then cut down so that it matches to a particular fur’s texture and color. This fabric is also known as pile fabric. If we try to compare the original fur with fake animal fur, it is difficult to distinguish them from one another. This is because of the use of advanced technology for manufacturing such fake furs.
History of the fake fur
If we study the history of clothing, we find that fur was the one of the oldest form of clothing worn by men and women. Human beings always had fascination for the animal fur but it was always an expensive item that too in short supply. When fake fur has first introduced, it was made from the hair of a mammal named alpaca. Although the fur was of low quality in comparison of furs like mink and beaver, as it provided warmth and was inexpensive manufacturers continue to manufacture it and improve its quality and color. The true modern fake fur was introduced in late 1950’s. This became possible as acrylic polymers were replaced with usage of alpaca hair.
The special features of acrylic polymer included: light weight than other fake fur fabrics and also provided the volume needed to imitate the real fur. It was much easier to texture and dye this polymer. Continuous research and innovations were carried out to give the fake fur more realistic look and feel and also make them fire resistant. This was achieved when acrylic polymers were mixed with other polymers. This new breed of fabrics developed was named as modacrylics. This newly developed fabric is now being used primarily for manufacturing the fake fur.
Fake animal furs are manufactured in such a manner that they have the look and warmth of that of real animal fur. However it is impossible to exactly match the real animal fur, these fake furs have added advantages over natural fur as artificial furs can be colored with any color shades, they are more durable and less prone to environmental abuse. Even some of them are hand washable. Before the invention of fake fur, the rich and famous were only be able to wear the fur. But now as artificial furs are less expensive and easily available more and more people are buying it. Therefore safeguarding the interests of the animal activists and environmentalists and also saving the butchering of innocent animals for their fur.
Fake furs are made with a variety of materials. Fake furs are manufactured using acrylic polymers, modacrylics or combination of these polymers in proper ratio. Acrylic polymers are made up of chemical compositions .The chemicals used in manufacturing acrylic polymers are derived from coal, air, water, limestone and petroleum. When acrylonitrile monomer undergoes chemical reactions under controlled condition of elevated heat and pressure- acrylic polymer is derived. Modacrylic polymers are copolymers. They are made by the reaction between acrylonitrile and vinyl chloride monomers. The increasingly use of modacrylic for fake fur manufacturing is due to its property of being easily colored by real looking animal fur dyes and are fire resistant.
These chemically manufactured polymers have many advantages over the natural fur. They provide the fluffy look to the garment, lighter in weight and bouncy. Also are resistant to various environment abusive situations like heat, smoke and sunlight. Their maintenance is also very easy as they can be easily washed or dry cleaned without any fuss. Moreover they are not attacked by insects also. They have the property of low moisture absorbency and hence dry out quickly.
Other natural fabrics like silk, mohair and wool are used to improvise the feel and look of the fake fur garment. In combination with polypropylene, cotton or wool are used to make the base for the fibers. To add shine and smoothness to fake furs various types of resins and silicones are used. Then dyes and colors are added. Designers in order to give the natural look to the fake fur use colors similar to that of natural fur.
In order to achieve that natural look of the fur it is important on the part of the manufacturer to maintain the quality of the fake fur. For this each and every phase of production has to be inspected carefully. Therefore right from the inspection of the raw materials uptil the final finished fibers produced by polymerization reactions has to be taken care of in order to produce fake fur of high quality. Certain physical and chemical tests are done on the fibers to ensure that they meet the standards required. Some of such tests check pH, density, appearance and melting point. Also the absorbency, elasticity and resilience also tested.
During the manufacturing process, the line inspectors check the fiber at various stages to ensure the size, fiber strength, appearance and sewing quality is proper. In addition to the manufacturer’s own standards, the industry and government has also set quality parameters. The government has also set some standards which are known as L-22 to test fabric properties like pilling, contraction and the wear.
Constant experiments are been made to produce fake furs that are more durable and in most resemblance to the natural animal fur. Therefore focus is on developing new fibers with better finishing and lower cost of production. The starting of the twentieth century marked the revolution in the fake fur manufacturing industry. More specialized and efficient method of production is being developed.
Special animal simulation techniques have recently been developed. One of such technique includes simulation of the long and short hair sections of mink or river otter fur by amalgamation of shrinkable and non-shrinkable fibers. In order to get the feel of beaver fur, certain fine and coarse fibers are mixed. As these fake furs are made up of synthetic fibers and has similar texture, color, look and better insulation than the real fur. Artificial furs are PETA approved.