Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Vintage Furs....



I deal quite a bit in vintage clothing including furs and I get asked alot of questions about them.  At first, I was afraid of buying and selling fur coats because I wasn't sure of what I was getting into.  For several years, I had the privilege of setting across the aisle from a fur dealer who had been in the fur business for over 40 years.  He was like a text book of information and studying his racks of coats made it easier for me to begin identify coats.  Not only did he teach me about buying them, he also taught me how to sell good furs.  Nothing I enjoyed more than watching him sell a coat.

But first lets start with some basics he passed on to me.

First, why should someone buy a fur?  A fur coat is warmer than probably any other coat you will find.  When I was a kid, my mom use to put rabbit fur coats on me and send me to school.  They always made me sneeze and I would complain but she said if animals can stay out in the wilderness all winter long then this will keep you warmer than any old coat.  And she's right.  Did you know the number one reason people buy furs is for the warmth and comfort?

A lot of people are so afraid of having paint thrown on their coats by anti fur activists, even though this does happen it is so few and far between that it really shouldn't affect your reason for purchasing a fur coat.  If you stay with vintage coats most of those were made long before  most of these activist were even an organization.

The craftsmanship of a fur coat is unlike anything else you will experience.  The making of a fur coat is an art in itself.   Most coats take several weeks to finish.

Fur coats always seem to be in fashion and you can dress them up or dress them down.  If a coat style is too dated, you can have them restyled but this adds expense to your coat.  I suggest you purchase a more traditional style coat.

So what kinds of coats are there.   There is Beaver, Chinchilla, Coyote, Deer, Ermine, Fisher, Lamb, Lynx, Marten American, Mink, Muskrat, Nutria, Opossum, Rabbit, Raccoon, Sable, Squirrel, Tanuki, and Weasel to name a few.

When buying a fur, you will get more for your money if you buy a vintage, preowned coat.  No matter what a furrier tells you when selling a coat, you will never get out of them what you paid for them if you purchased them new.  It's like driving off of a car lot, they depreciate immediately.

Here a few things to consider when buying a vintage coat.

* Try it on with something light weight and something heavy like a sweater to see how it will wear with different types of clothing.

* Check under the arms both inside and out for tears and repairs.

* Check the pockets for tears.

* Check for wear around the wrists.  Also hold the arms out and check the condition and that the arms are straight.

* Check the lining for stains.  Linings can be replaced at a pretty affordable price so don't let that discourage you from purchasing a gorgeous fur.

*  Either look in a mirror or have someone else try on the coat to make sure the shoulders line up and that the coat hangs properly.  Just because you are buying vintage doesn't mean you have to settle for a poor quality coat.

* Be sure that the coat is not dried out.  Which it would be all crunchy and hard so it's very easy to identify.  And as sad as it is to say at this time, if a coat is dried out there is no way to oil the coat and bring it back.

* Check the maker of the coat.  If it originally came from a quality furrier then you are probably purchasing a quality coat.  If the coat is from a department store check what country it was made in.  I have found coats made in countries such as South Korea are usually a different type of animal other than what it is suppose to be, but this is not always the case.

* Just because a coat is heavier in weight than another coat doesn't always mean it is the top quality.  For example the lighter weight for most minks means it is a higher quality coat.

When you go to buy your vintage fur it is okay to have a budget set in mind.  You will find that most coats, especially minks, are priced very reasonably because they are more common.  As in anything the more unusual the coat the more expensive it will be.  But don't forget to negotiate.  I have over ten vintage furs in my own collection and have never paid more than $100 for a coat.

The most important thing is to buy what you like and make sure it fits your lifestyle and budget.

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