This is a question we get asked very frequently, namely how to distinguish rex rabbit fur, which is the same color as chinchilla and real chinchilla fur. If you buy in a store, the question usually does not arise because the merchant will be able to tell you the exact type of skins. However, in the world of online shopping it can be misleading, artificial coloring techniques have improved and you can see some really good chinchilla imitations that are actually rex rabbits.
But before we move on to the tips that will help you distinguish between the two types of fur, let me tell you a few words about each type of fur.
Chinchilla fur comes from rodents whose natural habitat is the Andes in South America. The name comes from the Chinchas, an indigenous people who used the animal's fur to dress. Fur was introduced to Europe by the Spaniards and was highly regarded by royalty at the time for its softness and appearance. The chinchilla is probably the softest fur and the second in terms of hair density (the sea otter comes first) with 20,000 hairs per cm². A unique feature is that each follicle contains 50 to 60 hairs. The fur is so soft that you can dip your finger 2-3cm deep without feeling anything. Chinchillas are rather small animals and a lot of skins are needed to make a fur coat. A sixty-centimeter jacket with a minimalist stand-up collar would require 30 pelts on average, while a mink fur coat of the same size would require 15 pelts. Chinchilla skins are very thin and delicate and require a lot of care. This website offers a large variety of real chinchilla fur coats.
Rex rabbit fur comes from a breed of rabbit that originated in France in the early 1920s. They have a short guard coat that does not protrude and a very thick undercoat. They have a velvety texture and a uniform appearance. These two properties have made them very popular in the fur industry and clothing made with this fur is considered to be of high quality, unlike the common rabbit. Their average size is 25-30% larger than chinchillas. On the market, they are most often found in imitation chinchilla color. A 60 cm long jacket requires 18-20 skins on average.
So, after this rather encyclopedic prior information, here are some 3 point tips that will help you distinguish the differences, particularly useful when shopping online.
1. The surface
Curved Surface: A real chinchilla fur coat always has a wavy surface with the protruding part in the middle of each skin. Rex rabbit fur coats are always flat. Here's why: Real chinchilla pelts are really small and with the back part being the thickest part, furriers also use the sides and the abdominal part which are thinner. This way you get the rounded look with protruding central skin parts and concave peripheral parts on each skin at the stitch lines. Rex rabbit skins are larger and cheaper and there is no need to use sidewalls. Only the dorsal area is used and therefore the flat appearance is uniform. This difference is very characteristic and after reading the above you should be able to tell the difference very easily.
2. The number of skins
Count the number of skins from the seam of the collar to the top of the buttocks, ideally on the back of the jacket. For a height of 60 cm, you should count 8-9 skins or 7-8 lines of stitching on this length, in the case of the real chinchilla. A rex rabbit coat will have 5-6 skins or 4-6 lines of stitching. This is not universal, but it applies in most cases and, of course, the skins should be sewn horizontally.
3. The coloring pattern
The true chinchilla has a dark central area surrounded by a soft gray area and white lines on the sides. The rex chinchilla color knockoffs come in many color variations, but if you don't see this pattern, it's likely not a real chinchilla, however. There are some really good knockoffs, but when it comes to rex rabbit fur, the coloring pattern tends to be artificial and very geometric while authentic natural chinchilla does not have strict geometric patterns. If you see continuous, straight, and rectangular patterns, it is most likely rex rabbit.
Now, as for the price, needless to say that the real chinchilla costs a few thousand dollars while the rex rabbit costs a few hundred. As for the texture, I won't expand on that because you have to touch both furs once and be able to tell the difference.