Fur Glossary & Terms

American Legend Cooperative.
A trade organization repre­senting the former members of EMBA, the Mutation Mink Breeders Association, and GLMA, the Great Lakes Mink Association.

An American Legend trade name describing a very dark brown shade of mink that appears almost black.

A chemical process in which furs are lightened or made white. Bleaching generally weakens the leather of a fur.


Trade name for Persian Lamb (karacul) from the U.S.S.R.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Spe­cies, a treaty signed in 1973 by members of eighty-seven nations, which regulates trade in endangered or threatened species. In the Unit­ed States, the CITES convention is operated under the auspices of the World Wildlife Fund.

 Commercial grade.
A fur of less than prime quality.

Part of Grooving.

Cost-utility ratio.
A term used when determining the advisability of having a fur remodeled.

Part of Tanning.

A process in which furs are cleaned and fluffed by putting them in a drum with chemically treated sawdust. The abrasive action of the sawdust as the fur revolves in the drum cleans and fluffs the furs.

A process in which the color of a fur is changed.

Endangered Species 
Plants, animals, and insects whose existence is threatened because of overharvesting, destruction of habitat, etc. En­dangered species are not used by American or Canadian furriers.

Endangered Species Act.
A law passed by Congress which forbids the sale or possession of animals and other wildlife whose existence is threatened.

Clipping fur in shingled layers to produce an effect similar to eyelash fringe. Feathering is also another term for tip-dyeing, as this process was often done with a feather.

Flat fur.
A type of fur with leather and only one kind of fur or hair, such as hair seal or Persian lamb.

Scraping the leather side of a raw pelt to remove excess fats and other material.

Fur Farm Animal Welfare Coalition.
An organization composed of American mink farmers, whose purpose is to ensure the proper treat­ment of ranched mink. The organization also conducts educational programs to inform the public about fur farming.

Fur Information Council of America.
A trade organization consisting of manu­facturers, retailers, and others involved in the fur industry. In addition to promoting "the fashion image of fur apparel to the consumer," FICA is actively involved in conservation on both the national and inter­national level.

Shearing fur in "stripes" of alternating widths and depths. The result is similar to corduroy; the stripes can be wide or narrow. Also called cording.

A Yiddish word referring to the guard hair along the center back of a pelt. It is longer and coarser than the rest of the fur and sometimes resembles a short mane.

Guard hair.
The long lustrous outer hair of a fur that protects the ani­mal from inclement weather. Guard hairs are lacking in flat furs such as Persian lamb.

International Fur Trade Federation (IFTF).
An organization com­posed of thirty fur-producing countries whose purpose is to ensure that the industry follows guidelines designed to preserve the existence of fur-bearing species.

International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
An orga­nization based in Switzerland which is involved in preservation of nat­ural resources. Publishes the Red Data Book, which lists the endangered species of every nation.

A process in which strips of fur are alternated with strips of leather. It is used to lighten very heavy furs, such as wolverine and badger, and to create different styles.

Letting out.
A method in which pelts are scored into very narrow, fine strips, and then resewn. The shape of the pelt is changed, but not the square area.

Trade name for Canadian mink.

A fur that is a variation of the naturally occurring color of the fur. Rabbit, chinchilla, fox, and mink are bred in mutation colors. Natural. Natural furs have been dressed, but are sold in their natural colors and textures.

Natural ranch mink.
A term referring to mink which ranges in color from chocolate brown to off-black.

Trade name for Russian mink.

North American Fur Association (NAFA).
A trade organization (formerly Hudson’s Bay Company) representing ranchers in the United States and Canada.

A natural process in which fur changes color over time. Although all furs will eventually oxidize, modern tanning techniques make the change in color look natural.

Partial skins.
Portions of pelts, including flanks or sides and bellies, that are used in fur garments. The fur is usually softest in these areas, and the desirability of the fur depends largely on the markings, color, and texture.

Pieced fur.
Furs made from very small trimmings from full pelts-may be as small as a half an inch in length. The cuttings are usually sewn into large sheets, called plates. Such furs as fox, mink, or Persian lamb can be pieced. Pieced furs are less expensive than other types, but also wear the most poorly, and for this reason should always be reinforced on the leather side.

Sections of fur-often measuring eighteen by twenty-four inches-that have been sewn together like cloth. The fur pattern is placed on the plate, which is cut like fabric. Pieced furs are made from plates.

A process in which the guard hairs of a fur are removed by tweezing or plucking. In some cases, only the uneven or coarse hairs are plucked. It is necessary to pluck the furs before shearing them.

Any method of changing the appearance or texture of a given fur including dyeing, grooving, and bleaching.

Ranched fur.
Fur from animals which are raised on farms, including mink, chinchilla, sheep, fox, and nutria. Approximately 85 to 90 per­cent of the furs used in the United States are from ranched animals.

A process in which very narrow strips of leather are alternat­ed with strips of fur. Often used for less expensive coats and jackets.

Trademark for ranch-raised Scandinavian mink and fox pelts.

A process in which the fur is shaved or cut down to an even, plushlike texture, similar to silk velvet. This is often done on furs from aquatic creatures, such as nutria, beaver, and mink.

A method of making fur garments in which the skins are not let out, but trimmed, and then fit to a pattern. Skin-on-skin coats are less expensive to make and do not require as much skill as let-out garments. This process is often used with larger skins, as well as with less expensive pelts. However, sable and mink garments are made skin-on-skin as well.

Trade name for Soviet-produced sable, considered the finest in the world.

Soft-catch trap.
A type of leg-hold trap that uses rubber pads to confine an animal, causing much less injury and distress than the steel leghold trap.

Specialty fur.
A fur combining unusual techniques and materials to create a one-of-a-kind garment.

A process in which the raw pelts are skinned, fleshed, soaked, and washed in special solutions to prepare them for use in garments.

Coloring only the tips of the guard hairs for uniform shad­ing.

The underfur of a fur with guard hairs. The underfiber, or underfur, should be dense, soft, and compact. This is what keeps you,and the animal, warm.

Vintage fur.
A previously owned garment that combines a high degree of workmanship with quality materials to create a valuable antique fur.