Decades ago, nothing evoked glamor quite a like a fur coat. Back then, fur garments – especially mink – shone as the ultimate symbol of status, elegance, and femininity. No sophisticated, fashion-loving female’s wardrobe was complete without one.
In the ensuing decades, fur's popularity declined, sparked by animals' rights concerns and increasingly casual lifestyles. In the last few years, however, it's staged a comeback, especially in the high-end market. Runaway shows in Europe and New York increasingly featured fur designs and sales have steadily accelerated.
Fur is unlikely to ever enjoy the mass appeal it once had (many have since sworn off the real deal in favor of faux, or no fur at all), but fur seems to have a timeless place on the catwalk and in fashionistas' wardrobes. Fur is also piquing the interest of investors.
- Although still avoided by those who support animal rights or even a more casual lifestyle, fur remains an investable collector's item for a niche, wealthy crowd.
- Mink, sable, and chinchilla are the most expensive and seen as the most luxurious and chic by buyers; rabbit and hare are the least expensive and seen as the least luxurious and upscale.
- Fur prices vary depending on where you buy the garment, what kind of retailer you buy it from, the quality of the pelt, whether it's a designer label and whether it's new or previously worn.
Top Types of Fur
The varieties of fur are vast, and each has its own attributes. Long-haired furs, such as fox, and those with dense under-furs – like beaver, mink, chinchilla – are esteemed for their warmth factor. Beaver, possum, and raccoon are valued for their affordability and durability.
Falling into the lower price ranges are "bulk” or more common furs, such as rabbit and hare. Of the most desirable, luxurious (and expensive) furs out there, three reign supreme: mink, sable, and chinchilla.
Among the most-desired furs, a top-of-the-line sable fur coat can run as high as $150,000; but even a lower-tier mink coat will cost you at least $1,000.
When a woman purchases her first fur coat, it’s almost always mink. Mink is officially the highest-selling fur worldwide, due to its lightweight, decadently soft texture, unique sheen, and incredibly long life. Coats made of female skins (smaller, lighter and softer) are considered more desirable. Most recognizable in a rich, chocolaty shade of dark brown, this fur varies vastly in price, from under $1,000 to well over $50,000, but don’t expect to pay less than five figures for a quality garment.
A sable fur coat is one of the most coveted on earth, revered for its silky pelt, which retains smoothness regardless of which way it’s stroked. A demure jacket can start at around $16,000, but a top-quality silvery coat can easily run into six figures, or upwards of $150,000.
Recognized for its glamorous slate blue-gray color, chinchilla is about as prestigious as it gets. It’s extremely lightweight, yet bears the highest hair density of any animal, so no other fur is softer or warmer, or looks more lavish. Chinchilla is difficult to work with (one of the reasons it’s so expensive) and requires a lot of care. Prices range from $30,000 to $100,000.
Upkeep and Investment
Fur garment prices vary according to geographical location, level of the retailer, pelt quality, designer label and the seasons. As with a car, the minute a new fur garment walks out of the store, it drops 50% in value. And furs generally don’t appreciate with time. However, they can be maintained to maximize their resale value down the track.
In fact, fur garments must be cared for to preserve their longevity. Humidity is fur’s mortal enemy, so when the weather warms up, be sure to store a garment in a cool, dry place (ideally below 55 degrees Fahrenheit, and 40%-45% humidity). Better yet, outsource to professional fur storage services and free up closet space at the same time.
Don't forget protection for your possession with insurance. There are specific fur floaters to policies, though many fur owners simply itemize their garments on a rider of their homeowner's insurance, as scheduled personal property. If your fur is from a big-name label, you might consider getting a type of insurance geared towards haute couture.
Before you choose which kind of fur to buy, consider why you are buying the garment, what the investment value is of the style you're considering and whether you will want to resell it at a later point.
Just like any garment investment, try before you buy. Ensure your fur complements your skin tone and hair color. Try it on in daylight.
Fur styles have come a long way from the classic full-length coat of brown, black or silver hue. "Fun furs" dyed in a myriad of not-found-in-nature colors and fashioned into everything from bomber jackets to ski vests are becoming more popular.
Research sellers before purchasing and aim for coats made in Europe or North America because they’re generally better quality. By law, furs sold in the U.S. have to be labeled with the type of skin and country of its origin.
If you have ethical concerns, you can ask if the fur came from a farm- or ranch-raised animals (vs. wild ones). Or, you can take the estate route, buying a gently used piece at a consignment or vintage clothing store. The secondary market is brimming with coats in need of a new home closet.