Faux fur are truly hot gifts

12/22/2013 10:32 AM

12/22/2013 10:32 AM

Finding a knockoff version of the fur you want under the Christmas tree used to be a disappointment.

Not anymore.

Faux is the new black this season for holiday gifts. But this isn’t the “pleather” of the 1980s.

A $198 fuzzy brown coat at Banana Republic has a prominently placed tag that reads “faux fur.” Dresses with vegan leather accents are flying off virtual shelves at shopbop.com. And at luxury retailer Barney’s, a Marni faux-leather three-quarter-sleeve jacket sells for $1,900.

Faux is gaining popularity in part because there have been advances in technology enabling designers to make better-looking fakes. In a still-shaky economy that has made Americans more frugal, faux also can be seen as a good way to be trendy without breaking the bank. And a movement toward socially conscious shopping makes some people feel better about faux purchases.

Banana Republic’s $69.50 faux-fur neckwarmer and faux-fur leopard vests have been best sellers. Target says faux fur home goods such as pillows and throws are performing “exceptionally well.” And Macy’s says new techniques used with faux leather, like scalloping and quilted stitching, have given tops and jackets “new relevance.”

Andrew Dent, who is a vice president at global materials consultancy Material Connexion, says that the trend is being fueled by the fact that faux fur and leather are nearly indistinguishable from the real thing nowadays. He said that’s because designers are replacing older plastic such as PVC with improved polyurethane that is more leather-like to the touch. They’re also tapering synthetic fibers to make faux fur seem more luxe and softer.

The improved quality is what spurred Brandon Vidal, 28, to buy two faux fur blankets as Christmas presents this year for his mother and a roommate. “They feel great,” said Vidal, who lives in Calgary. “They’re warm and cozy, and it is freezing up here in Canada.”

In addition to better technology, a growing social consciousness about buying fabric that doesn’t involve cruelty to animals has made faux fashion more acceptable.

But for others, buying faux is a matter of simple mathematics. A $69.50 faux-fur neckwarmer is much cheaper than a designer version with real fur, which can run as much as $1,000. And real leather jackets can be hundreds or thousands of dollars, while department-store faux versions rarely top $100.

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