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MENSWEAR Fur flies in the face of freezing temperatures

Published: Fri, February 28, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.

Fashionable or not, sometimes faux furs make sense.
Who says men don't look good in fur? When the windchill factor goes below zero, fashion probably isn't the first thing on the mind. Warmth is.
That's why Leroy Silkowski is grateful, especially these frigid days and nights, for his long, luxurious silver fox fur.
Now before any animal-rights activists start throwing paint, Silkowski's thick pile is faux. Besides, who would want to harm this fur-fluffed gent who is so ready with a smile, a wave and a toasty-warm welcome?
Silkowski is one of 15 doormen at the Mohegan Sun casino in Hartford, Conn. They're easy to spot at the various entrances to the bustling casino: They're the ones wearing three-quarter-length fur coats. The distinctive coats have been part of the winter uniform of Mohegan Sun doormen since it opened in 1996. But this year, the coat isn't just another over-the-top component of Mohegan Sun's flashy razzmatazz. In case you haven't noticed, it's cold outside.
"This year we need them," Silkowski said. "Some guy who just started with us said, 'I'm not going to wear that thing.' But they really like it now."
What's not to like? Made by Cintas, a rental uniform company in Cincinnati, they were designed exclusively for Mohegan Sun. Each coat cost about $635. No other casino, restaurant or hotel doorman has this design, said Elizabeth Riggs, a spokeswoman for Cintas. The company also made fur vests for bartenders in the Wolf Den.
So what's it like to work in fur? We chatted with Silkowski, who has been a doorman at the casino since November 1996:
Q: What was your reaction when you first saw the fur jackets?
A: We didn't like them. As the temperature dropped, we needed them.
Q: Do you have to share the furs with other doormen?
A: We each have our own. We get a new one every two years.
Q: What do they feel like?
A: It's got a normal jacket liner. The outside is "synthetic fur," they call it. People like to touch the jacket. Some want to touch us for luck.
Q: Are they heavy?
A: They weigh a little bit more than the normal jacket.
Q: What do casino customers say when they see them?
A: People have asked us where to buy them. Some ask us if they're real. Some people think they're real. And there are some people who think we're making a fortune out there because we have fur jackets.
Q: Did it take awhile to get used to them?
A: The first year, they were a little different. Now we swear by them.
Q: Do they smell?
A: The jacket gets dry-cleaned as often as you decide.
Q: Does anyone ever make fun of you?
A: Some guys come in and make jokes. You play with it.
Q: Do you feel glamorous in them?
A: I enjoy the jacket. Once the weather turns to cold, I'm ready to go with it. I enjoy wearing it.
Q: Is your wife jealous of your fur? Does she want one, too?
A: No, she doesn't. I don't think she'd wear a real fur. I've brought it up a couple of times to her. She's opposed to that.

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