Chinchilla is softer than soft

This small rodent from the Andes was once threatened with total extinction and the species is only in existence today because it is farmed for its fur. Chinchilla fur had already been remarked upon by the Incas and then by the Spanish Conquistadors for its extraordinary softness, a result of the very high density of incredibly fine hair. “Each follicle produces fifty or sixty downy hairs,” explains the director of the Hungarian company Wanger, a specialist in the material since 1978 and exhibiting for the first time at Première Vision Leather. Its colour, dark grey on the back and white on the belly, also contributes to its charm. “There are four or five natural shades. The darker the central part, the more beautiful the pelt. But chinchilla can easily be dyed in a whole range of colours. Around 80% of our production is coloured,” the director continues.

Raised on farms in South America, Russia and Hungary, the skins are then subject to a mineral tanning, generally using aluminium, which makes the hair very persistent and extremely light, compared to rival species such as mink or the Rex rabbit. But the leather is very fine, which makes it much more complicated to use.

Global production is low, around 300 000 skins per year, around half of which come from our company,” the specialist tells us. “Despite it being so rare, demand is stable and pelts trade at an average of around 80 euros per unit. Luxury houses buy them for clothing and for accessories”. Difficult to resist this exquisite material!