Stay Warm, Chic with Super-Luxe Faux-Fur Toppers
New local boutiques, businesses and brands you may not know — but should.
Walking down a street in New York City a couple of years ago, Fran Broder was stopped by a woman who wanted to buy her hat right off her head. She didn’t sell it, but she did know she was on to something.
Last January, based on the prototype she modeled that day in New York, Broder launched FauxFurEver, a line of ultra-luxe faux-fur trapper and cloche hats and scarves handmade from the silkiest non-fur a set of fingers could have the pleasure of running through. She had come across a fabric called Tissavel, a plush “high faux” fur made in northern France and snatched up by Chanel, Prada and other high-fashion houses. She immediately thought, “Hats!”
“I’m not a risk taker by nature,” says Broder. “But I’m 58 years old. I figured it’s now or never.”
Harboring a love of fashion since she was in junior high school, Broder had put her passion aside to earn a degree in journalism at the University of Michigan. “My parents thought I should do something practical,” she says. “I also got a teaching certificate, just in case.”
She went into advertising, working as a copywriter for firms in Detroit and New York before moving back to Michigan to raise her son with her husband, Sid, in Birmingham. She did a little fashion styling, worked for an animal shelter and did some freelance public relations. All of which she felt good about. But she never satisfied the creative itch that often came around to taunt her.
An idea struck, literally, one night as she watched her husband and son padding around the house wrapped in thick fleece blankets. “They were always cold because I was always turning the heat down in the winter,” says Broder. She found a super-cushy fleece, hired a seamstress (“I got a D on my apron in Home Ec”), who set to work creating her designs for chic fleece neckwarmers, and launched her first business, Nodzzz.
While nurturing her fleece business, she made her Tissavel discovery and set to work creating prototype hats. “Other faux furs are knitted in China,” explains Broder. “This is woven. And, as an animal lover, I was thrilled to find it. I don’t think that people realize faux fur can be this luxurious. I’m not a zealot. I wear leather boots. But my goal is to promote luxury without harm. It’s what drives me.”
Broder showed her mouthwatering and super-stylish prototypes to her friend (and Huntington Woods native) Lynn Husum, co-owner of the wildly popular children’s clothing line Appaman.
“Lynn thought they were amazing,” says Broder. Husum called her publicist, Broder kept tweaking with her seamstresses and now the line is set to appear in 16 national publications and has fulfilled international orders. Her line has been chosen as one of the “10 Best Winter Hats” by People magazine’s Style Watch and has been photographed topping the heads of Angelina Jolie, Sarah Jessica Parker and their oft-emulated kids.
“It’s exciting,” says Broder. And though she’s poised for an enormous breakthrough success, what she’s really excited about is finally satisfying her creative urge.
“All these years I’d felt creatively unstimulated. I’d tried painting. I’d gotten into cooking. I hadn’t found how to channel it. I finally feel gratified.”
Find FauxFurEver hats and scarves and kids’ hats ($146-$212) at Lori Karbal, Birmingham (248-258-1959; lorikarbal.com); Leon & Lulu, Clawson (248-288-3600; leonandlulu.com); and online at fauxfurever.com.