Furs come in many colors, lengths, types and styles. Typically associated with lavish coats, furs are also used to make stoles, collars, wraps, cuffs, hats and more. Fur clothing dates back to the Middle Ages and gained popularity with both men and women through the 19th and 20th centuries.
The first mink coat appeared in the 19th century. Mink fur is known to be lightweight, durable and lustrous with a warm and soft interior. Female mink pelts feel silkier but are smaller than male mink pelts. Though originally found in their natural habitats in China, Siberia and Japan, minks are primarily farm-raised in the U.S. and Canada. Scandinavia ranks as the top fur-farming region, producing 66 percent of fur-farmed minks.
It takes many of these tiny rodents to make a fur coat, so the coats are costly. Chinchillas are found in South America and almost became extinct because of European demand. Today, chinchillas are a protected species in the wild and are farm-raised, mostly in Denmark and Hungary, for use in clothing. Chinchilla offers a wide range of color, medium-length fur and superior softness.
The second most popular fur, fox fur features a long, lustrous coat, a soft interior and a wide range of natural colors. Foxes are farmed and bred in the U.S., Canada and Russia, but Scandinavia produces 61 percent of fur-farmed fox pelts. In the 1890s, women wore the full fox pelt -- head, tail and all. In 2002, fashion powerhouses Christian Dior and Gucci featured full fox pelts in runway fashion shows. Today, fox fur is mostly used for trims, collars, wraps and stoles.
Russian sables are the most expensive fur in the world. A desirable sable fur will have a lush, dark brown coat with ample amounts of silver hair. Unlike other furs, sable retains its softness no matter which way it is stroked. Sables are found in Siberia, Canada and China, though many are also farmed.