Vintage fur is a great alternative to new fur, as the designs can be very unique, and it is often a lot less expensive. But vintage furs need to be carefully selected, as it is easy to buy a “bad” vintage fur. I bought a beautiful vintage leather coat with chevrons of white fur (I believe it was fox) and one of the chevrons tore when I was out at a party. Within hours, the coat had torn in about eight more places. I freaked out, as the coat had cost me $100, and this was the second time I was wearing it. I took it into Pappas Furs, in hopes of getting it fixed. Unfortunately, I was told “Dry rot, throw it away.” They told me it wasn’t even worth making into a blanket. I won’t ever make that mistake again.
Here are some tips I got from Walter, the master furrier from Pappas Furs, about what to look for when buying vintage fur.
- Look at the fur, if it is oxidized, you shouldn’t buy it. If the fur has a yellow tinge, then it means it is oxidized. Look for the yellow tinge on the areas that are exposed to the sun, for example the shoulders, and the sleeves.
- Touch the fur and its leather, if it is brittle, forget it. The fur should have a soft, supple feel. If it is brittle and crunchy, it means it has dried out, or has dry rot.
- Another way to test for dry rot is to pull on the leather a bit (the underside of the fur.) If there is no elasticity, then the fur is nearing end of life.
- Another sign of dry rot is rips, If there are several rips in the coat, chances are the fur is dried out. Check areas like the arm holes, shoulders, and neckline for rips.
- If the fur is shedding quite a lot, it might be infested with moths. Keep in mind that some delicate furs can break (for example rabbit or chinchilla) and most furs shed a little bit but if there are a lot of hair coming off the garment, or the hairs are coming out in clumps, then do not buy the coat.
Thanks to Walter from Pappas Furs in Vancouver, who kindly supplied me with these useful vintage fur buying tips.