Nutria (plucked), hat and collar, 1966

Nutria fur, also known as coypu fur, is used in the fashion industry. It comes from the coypu, a South American rodent and cousin of the beaver.

History of the furEdit

The nutria is a semi-aquatic mammal native to South America. It first became internationally popular as a fur in the 1930s, when it was worn by Hollywood stars such as Greta Garbo.[1] It resembles beaver, with stiff guard hairs and a soft, short undercoat.[2]

It was originally imported to the southern United States – possibly as early as the 19th century, although in larger numbers from the 1950s – to reduce the population of muskrat.[3][4] Some escaped and found the swamps of Louisiana ideal territory, leading to their common name of swamp rat. With the decline in the fur market in the 1980s, the population mushroomed and threatened the stability of the wetland ecosystem by eating away the plants that hold the swamp together.[4]

Nutria fur in its natural state


Typically, nutria is sheared or plucked for the fur trade. It can be dyed a variety of colors. Its middle weight – considerably lighter than beaver – also makes it suitable for linings. More recently, it is used by some furriers without plucking or shearing. In its natural colour it is light to rich brown, the most valuable furs being in the darker shades, but it may also be dyed.[3]

A faux nutria, made of rabbit fur was at one time branded as nutriette.[5]

Rebranding as 'guilt free'Edit

In 2010, both the BBC and The New York Times reported that nutria was being promoted as a socially acceptable way to wear fur, with a fashion show held in Brooklyn sponsored by the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program, a conservation body working to preserve Louisiana swampland threatened by the nutria.[1][4]

Designers using nutriaEdit

Oscar de la Renta and Michael Kors are among the designers to have incorporated nutria into their designs, with de La Renta using it on hats and trims and Kors using it to line raincoats.[6]


  1. ^ a b "Nutria fur: from Louisiana swamps to New York catwalks". BBC. 2 December 2010. Retrieved 26 October 2014.
  2. ^ Brooks Picken, Mary (1999). A Dictionary of Costume and Fashion: Historic and Modern. Dover. p. 142. ISBN 0486402940. Retrieved 7 October 2014.
  3. ^ a b "Fur types in brief". Fur Commission. Retrieved 26 October 2014.
  4. ^ a b c Grossman, Anna Jane (17 November 2010). "Is their pest your clean conscience?". New York Times. Retrieved 26 October 2014.
  5. ^ Ray, Arthur J. (1990). The Canadian Fur Trade in the Industrial Age. Toronto, Buffalo, London: University of Toronto Press. p. 122. ISBN 0802067433. Retrieved 7 October 2014. Mendoza beaver dyed coney.
  6. ^ Marsh, Lisa (13 September 2010). "Guilt-free fur? Fashion embraces rodents". Today. Retrieved 26 October 2014.