Is that cashmere or rat?

Last updated 14:28 07/02/2014

SNUGGLE CHIC: We're guessing Hilary Rhoda and January Jones' gorgeous designer sweaters are the real deal.

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Buying cashmere is a fashionable luxury, if you can afford it. If not, there's always the option of purchasing something similar on the cheap.

But what's the catch?

If you are in Italy your soft, light and lovely coat might actually be made of rat hair instead.

Italian police from Rome and Livorno have seized more than a million counterfeit items, including fur coats found to contain rat hair.

The Italian news agency, ANSA, reported the seized cashmere coats contained, "a mixture of acrylic, viscose and fur from rats and other animals."

Manufactured in Rome and distributed near Florence, cashmere wasn't the only fibre to be seized. Police also seized fake wool, silk and pashmina clothes.

As the result of a yearlong investigation, 14 people from five Chinese-run firms may face fraud charges.

Aware of its reputation for producing quality items at too-good-to-be-true prices, China officials are cracking down on counterfeit goods, especially online.

The increase of knock-offs available in China may give the well-known "Made in China" label a bad reputation. Arab consumers suspect that all "Made in China" brands could be counterfeit.

In spite of goat and rat hair being similar in appearance and texture there is a simple way to test your cashmere is the real deal before purchasing.

According to the Cashmere and Camel Hair Manufacturers Institute website you can determine genuine cashmere by the way it feels.

Simply rub the palm of your hand on the surface of the garment. If the fibres start turning into little balls, then you could have a fake on your hands, says the website.

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- Sydney Morning Herald


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