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All About Vintage Furs

Fur has been a fundamental component of wardrobes for thousands of years. Traditionally, fur pelts from all varieties of animals were used to make functional clothing for warmth. During the Middle Ages, particularly in Europe with the rise of feudal system,  the aristocracy began to use fur in fashion to denote wealth. However, they were selective in the type of furs they wore, only selecting those with soft textures and high sheen. This can be considered the first time in  history that  fur became a  fashion symbol and representative of luxury and wealth.


Prior to the 1930's, the majority of fur pieces produced for fashion were crafted of nutria (beaver), rabbit, squirrel and ermine. Many of these earlier pieces do not survive, as rabbit and squirrel fur wear quickly . Ermine, a relative to mink, is durable, however, when mink came into fashion in the mid-1930's, many people disposed of their ermine pieces in favor of mink, making ermine pieces a rarity in today's vintage market. During the mid-20th century, with the rise of specialty fur companies such as SAGA and EMBA, fashion turned to mink, fox, and astrakhan as the primary types of fur used for couture pieces. 

The majority of fur pieces crafted before the 1980s were bespoke orders, usually made for a special occasion by a master furrier who embroidered the name of the owner in the lining. Although bespoke, popular styles were usually repeated  so it is typical to find  similar style  pieces with different linings crafted in different types of fur.

Today, names such as EMBA and Revillon are synonymous with the best in vintage fur fashion, with their rarity making them highly sought after pieces.


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