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A Brief History of Men’s Fur Coats

A Brief History of Men’s Fur Coats
Photo by nappy from Pexels

If you pretend to be a gentleman, you have to know about furs. You should also have at least one in your closet. Although, in the beginning, fur coats were only about status, today they are also about style and a way to affirm one’s self. Here is how fur coats for men went from raccoon coats to the pink mink look featured in the 21st century.

In the beginning

At the turn of the 19th century, men of wealth became the first to turn to fur coats. That’s because they were a visual sign, letting everyone know that you came from a higher-class level. But, as in most things, the rich benefited from all the other qualities it brought them, namely the most important one: it kept them warm. Before fashion became as important and cataloged the way that it is today, a fur coat for men was already turning heads on the street, in the largest European cities, and elsewhere.

In America, in the 1920s, Prep schools started seeing students wear full-length raccoon fur coats. Football games, an American sport played in the fall and winter (different from European football), suddenly featured many kids in the stands with such coats. They became so popular that they found their way in lifestyle magazines and newspapers, adding to their new popularity. Manufacturers always on the lookout, noticed the trend, and started advertising in a college newspaper, enabling the fashion to fully bloom.

From the 1930s to the 1970s

Fashion trends come and go quite rapidly. It was the same with the raccoon fur coat for men. Sales began to go down by the end of the 1920s. However, the industry wasn’t about to let it go so easily and decided to launch another strong advertising campaign in leading men’s fashion magazines, saying that the raccoon fur coat was making a strong comeback. And writing it, indeed, made it come true. There were more students than at any point before, at football games, wearing raccoon coats. They were slightly different from their predecessors, coming in a darker shade, with a shawl collar and hefty leather buttons.

All the while, in Europe, the trend was still going strong, as well. In fact, any respectable man would own at least three different fur coats back then. One was formal, the other was an evening coat, and the third was a sportier version. The origin and the quality of the fur was the main difference between one for a gentleman of higher class and one for a regular working man, raccoon and beaver being of the lower level, while sable was reserved for rich individuals.

The war saw the demand for fur coats diminish greatly. In fact, until around 1955, they weren’t popular anymore. It is prosperity that brought back men’s fur coats to front stage. And it became most popular in middle-class America, more than anywhere else in the world. They remained highly visible until the 1970s, when an anti-fur movement showed up and lowered sales.

The 21st Century Return

The cool thing about fashion is that you never know when it will bring back a style and who will be the one doing it. In the 1920s, hip hop did not exist. And to imply that a style of music, mostly brought on by Americans of African descent, would be attached to something so high-class as a fur coat would have been outrageous. But again, that’s the magic of the ever-changing lifestyle, and it is how it happened. The rappers decided that they were making fur part of their image, and it worked quite well.

Rick Ross Mastermind Tour - A Brief History of Men’s Fur Coats
Image by thecomeupshow, via Wikimedia Commons

Thanks to them, you can find men’s fur coats in colors that no one would have ever thought of using before. The most iconic fur coat of that era is probably the pink mink worn by Cameron. But don’t forget when Rick Ross took the stage at the 2012 BET Hip Hop Awards wearing just a pristine white fur coat with a grip of chains around his neck and no shirt on. Or Drake being photographed in the snow wearing fur for his “Views” album art cover.

Today, the new generation wears it mostly as a statement. And what a statement it is!

Featured Photo by nappy from Pexels