Bear Skin Manufacture

Fur and skins are said to be the first materials used for clothing. It is estimated that it was used in prehistoric times. Many cultures, such as Inuits rely on Fur for clothing to keep them warm. One of the most common bear fur garments, the bearskin hat was first introduced in 1815 during the battle of Waterloo.

A bears fur consists of two layers; the outer guard layer and the under layer. The underlayer is generally softer, shorter and more flexible. The guard hairs are long and coarse and generally un-useable in textile purposes. The longer hairs catch all the debris and dirt and protect the under layer of hairs.

The bears that are used for fur are usually shot of ensnared in metal traps. These are usually black bears but they can be many different colours, all shades of brown, grey and white. White is the most rare and therefore the most coveted.  Firstly the bear is skinned. Care is taken so that the majority of the pelt can be used, and it is kept in one whole piece. Chemicals are involved in the manufacturing process, such as table salts, acids, lanolin, dyes and bleaches, depending on the type of fur and its end requirements.

There is a lot of controversy surrounding the manufacture and distribution of fur, not only because of the fact that the animals are killed to obtain it, but also because of the way they are treated beforehand. Fur production costs are kept to a minimum to increase the sales profits.

Properties of Bear

  • Superior warmth and durability
  • Water Resistant
  • Retains its shape well
  • Good Insulator
  • Luxurious handle
  • Expensive
  • Strong
  • Versatile
  • Requires lots of aftercare such as professional cleaning
  • Can be delicate if exposed to perfume or hairspray
  • Heavy
  • Resistant to moths

Uses of Bear in Fashion Past and Present

  • Were used to fabricate bearskin caps but now a suitable replacement is being sourced as the hunting and killing of bear for their pelt is cruel and has caused many complaints
  • Used in fur coats
  • Used frequently in trimmings. The majority of the bears killed are purely for trims, rather than full fur coats
  • Clothes
  • Boots
  • Used to make felt
  • In the 21st Century designers made both sporty fur jackets and casual fur jackets
  • Stoles

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Written by Kelly Mitchell

Kelly Mitchell, extremely competent and reliable, she is currently in her third year at the University of Lincoln UK, studying Fashion. Kelly is responsible for the Fabrics, Fibers and Leathers sections of our Dictionary

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