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Vintage Fur Coat ID Series #5: Brown Mink

Vintage Fur Coat ID Series #5: Brown Mink

There are several natural colour shades of brown mink, such as pastel, the light brown colour popular in the 1960’s and 1970’s, which is most recognizable as Grandma’s mink stole.  Then we go darker into demi-buff, which is mid-brown in colour, then to mahogany, a very rich dark brown.  All these colour phases occur naturally on fur farms which have traditionally been found in North America and Scandinavia.  Each producer group, such as Canada Majestic, American Legend, and EMBA (European Mink Breeders Association) had different colours for the their natural mink colour phases, so you may see something else if you have an old storage tag or quality label inside, but the colours I’ve mentioned above are the most common.


Fendi Wild Mink Coat


Wild mink is also found in better quality coats, mostly ones made in Europe.  This colour is slightly lighter and redder than the typical Demi-Buff or Demi-Brown. It has a longer nap of fur and is much smaller than average ranched mink, so the ‘stripes’ in the coat are very narrow and require high skill to cut and sew them into the beautiful coats they are.

 Let-out mink


Likewise in ranched fur, part of the quality can be found in the height and texture of hair of the guard hairs (longer coarse hair type).  The highest quality in the world was always North American mink for its short, silky nap.

 Mahogany mink coat


Brown mink is usually natural rather than dyed. You can see this by lifting up the back of the lining and if the pelt (leather) is very white, it's natural.  A nicely coloured brown mink shows beautiful darker vertical lines when made in a ‘let out’ fashion, where hundreds of cuts and seams are done to make a single pelt go the length of the garment. This results in beautiful vertical stripes.  A typical ‘let out’ mink coat has about two miles of thread in it.

 Sheared pastel mink


In upcycling, mink shears beautifully, creating a short, soft lightweight and velvety fur perfect for a reversible or fur-lined cashmere coat. Sheared mink also makes a lovely and lightweight blanket in full fur or knit.

 Chloe Moretz in a pastel mink jacket


If you have a vintage brown mink coat and would like to know more about it, we would love to hear from you.  There are several ways to do this. You could send us your photos, we could arrange a video call, or you could make an appointment to bring your coat(s) into the store. Any of these options will give us a chance to share our ideas with you about how you can upcycle or modernize your coat to your liking.

 Kendall Jenner in vintage demi mink


But, first and foremost, if you love it and it fits - wear it.  It will be the warmest winter coat you will ever wear and you are carrying with you a family story or a piece of history. 

Sustainability is all about buying less but buying better or using what we have in the closet.  

Enjoy it!



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