How to Care for Real Fur Products

Published: 01st July 2010
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A genuine fur product, be it a fabulous, full length mink coat or simply an exotic skin handbag, is undeniably an asset which generally comes with a sizeable price tag.

In an effort to prolong the life and untold elegance of real fur products or exotic skin goods, it's essential to follow the steps outlined below.

Preserve the natural oils

Fur and leather will only stand the test of time if the natural oils in the pelt or skin are not disturbed by light, heat or chemicals.

The moment these lubricants are diminished or removed; the product will effectively dry out and the damaging biodegradation process will begin with immediate effect. It's important to remember that once these natural oils have been removed from a genuine fur product, there is no way to replenish them!

There are a number of factors which can induce premature damage to any leather or fur product, be it a fur and ostrich skin handbag, a crocodile skin belt or an Nguni hide travel bag.

The do's and don'ts of fur care

  • Do not store the fur or leather product in a garment bag when not in use. This will simply reduce the air flow and therefore the natural circulation of moisture; resulting in dryness and accelerated degradation.

  • Keep the real fur or leather product away from direct heat as this can cause dry-rot.

  • Do not expose fur products or exotic skin accessories to direct light for prolonged periods. It can result in oxidation and discolouration.

  • Avoid using perfumes, hairspray and other chemicals anywhere near the product. They will dry out the leather and stiffen the guard hairs.

  • Never store your fur or exotic skin product in mothballs. The chemicals react with both the moisture in the air and the natural oils in the pelt, causing dryness and the associated damage.

  • Always have rips and tears repaired by the professionals as soon as possible.

  • If a springbok & ostrich handbag gets wet, for example, simply give it a shake, dab the moisture with a soft cloth and allow it to dry naturally.

Although it's recommended to keep unused fur products in cold storage with minimal light, controlled temperatures, low humidity and theft protection; exotic leather handbags, wallets & luggage are slightly easier to care for.

Dedicated leather conditioners can be used on a regular basis to moisturise and strengthen the leather, ensuring both longevity and prolonged elegance whereas fur handbags and accessories can be kept in good condition by using a soft brush.

If your product has a zip, keep it in optimum condition by oiling it with natural beeswax and remember to place balls of white tissue paper into the handbag before storage so that it retains its original shape.

How to tell the difference between faux and real fur products

Last but not least, ensure that your valuable fur or leather product is indeed real and not faux by doing a couple of quick tests:

  • Caress the fur and if it feels silky and soft to the touch, you've got the real deal. If, however, it's coarse, rough and feels slightly sticky to the touch, you've got faux.

  • Pull a couple of hairs from the exclusive product and try the one-off burn test. If the strands melt and smell like burning plastic, rest assured you've been conned into buying faux.

  • Do the 'pin test' by sticking a pin into the product. If it's difficult to push the pin through the product you've probably got the real article as leather is quite difficult to penetrate.

  • Check out the price tag as real fur is far more expensive than faux.

The Safari Club is located in Cape Town, in the stylish shopping hub of the V&A Waterfront and specialises in exotic leather luggage, ostrich handbags, python purses and much more.

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