Clothing companies sometimes use confusing product names, hard-to-locate labels or even outright lies to make it difficult to tell what fabrics their garments actually are made from…
“Heavy cotton” and “ultra cotton” shirts might not be 100% cotton. Clothing maker Gildan uses these names even for some shirts made from a cotton/polyester blend. What to do: Search garments for a label indicating fiber content by percentage.
“Genuine leather” garments and accessories may be made from low-quality leather, though the term “genuine” implies legitimacy and reliability. Garments labeled “bonded leather” are made from shredded scraps of leather and fiber, mixed with a bonding agent, and spread over a backing material. There also are many faux-leather products on the market that seem to be leather but actually are made from synthetic materials. If what you really want is high-quality traditional leather, look for the term “top-grain leather” or “full-grain leather” on products or labels. (Full-grain leather tends to be especially durable.)
“Cashmere” sweaters, coats and other garments sometimes aren’t cashmere at all—disreputable companies have been known to pass off fakes as the real thing. In 2014, for example, Italian authorities seized more than a million “cashmere” garments actually made from lower-end fibers—including rat fur. What to do: Steer clear of cashmere garments made by obscure companies and sold at low-end stores.
“Fake fur” could be real fur. It costs apparel makers less to buy real skins of certain animals, including rabbits, coyotes and raccoon dogs (a canine family member, but neither a dog nor a raccoon), than it does to manufacture very high-quality fake fur. As a result, “fake fake furs” secretly made from real animals turn up—even in stores such as Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom Rack.
What to do: Examine the tips of the fur’s hairs—real animal hairs taper to a point, while fake fur generally does not.