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December 21, 2013

Vegan leather, fake fur are hot holiday gifts

Finding a knockoff version of the fur you want under the Christmas tree would ordinarily be a disappointment.

Not this year.

Faux is the new black this season for holiday gifts. But this isn’t the “pleather” of the 1980s — that cheap, plastic-looking material made popular by Michael Jackson during his “Thriller” days.

A $198 fuzzy brown coat at Banana Republic has a prominently placed tag that reads “faux fur.” Dresses with “vegan leather” accents are flying off virtual shelves at shopbop.com. And at luxury retailer Barney’s, a Marni faux leather three-quarter sleeve jacket sells for $1,900.

Faux is gaining popularity in part because there have been advances in technology enabling designers to make better-looking fakes. In a still-shaky economy that has made Americans more frugal, faux also can be seen as a good way to be trendy without breaking the bank. And a movement toward socially conscious shopping makes some people feel better about faux purchases.

It helps that some A-listers have given faux their seal of approval. Models have been seen on the runway wearing faux leather pieces in shows for big-name designers like Tom Ford and Rag & Bone. And actresses Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson have strutted on the red carpet in faux leather and fur.

While it’s difficult to pin down overall sales for faux goods, retailers say they are benefiting from their growing popularity. Banana Republic’s $69.50 faux-fur neckwarmer and faux-fur leopard vests have been best sellers. Target says faux fur home goods like pillows and throws are performing “exceptionally well.” And Macy’s says new techniques used with faux leather, like scalloping and quilted stitching, have given tops and jackets “new relevance.”

“It used to be that ‘faux’ meant less expensive and quality less than desirable, but not any longer,” said Josh Saterman, vice president and fashion director for millennials at Macy’s. “Faux is a part of our next evolution to our fashion ‘must-haves.’”

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