USA, 11 AUGUST 2016 – Seventeen large retailers are found to sell real fur items that are advertised or labeled as “faux fur”. New research shows that the retailers are promoting apparel and accessories of brands as Canada Goose, Marc by Marc Jacobs and Burberry Brit as fake fur, while the items actually include animal fur from raccoon dogs, rabbits and coyotes.
Fur Free Alliance member The Humane Society of the United States asks the Federal Trade Commission to bring enforcement action under federal consumer protection laws against the 17 retailers for false advertising of fur garments. Amazon, Neiman Marcus, Kohl’s, Nordstrom are among those facing potential civil or criminal penalties.
In its largest collection of industry misrepresentations to date, The HSUS highlights violations from December 2011 through December 2015 by retailers Amazon, A-List/Kitson, Barneys, Belk, Bluefly, Century 21 Department Stores, Eminent/Revolve, Gilt, Kohl’s, La Garconne, Mia Belle Baby, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Ross, Ruelala, Searle and Stein Mart. Pierre Grzybowski, Research and Enforcement manager of The HSUS’s Fur-Free Campaign, says:
“Consumers would be horrified to know they have been duped into purchasing animal fur when they thought they were buying a humane alternative. The FTC must crack down on this industry-wide problem of misrepresentation that The HSUS has been uncovering and documenting year-after-year for a decade.”
The sale of these coats, footwear, key chains, handbags and cardigans as “faux fur,” when in fact they include animal fur, is a violation of the US Fur Products Labeling Act, The Federal Trade Commission Act, and in some cases a violation of outstanding cease-and-desist orders already issued by the agency. Violations can carry penalties of up to one year in prison and/or fines of up to $40,000.
MICHAEL Michael Kors, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Burberry Brit, Canada Goose, Rebecca Minkoff, Elie Tahari and Rag & Bone are among the 32 different brands of apparel and accessories sold by the retailers named in the petition.
The submission represents the latest in a series of HSUS investigations and actions regarding rampant false advertising and labeling in the animal fur apparel industry. The HSUS previously sought FTC action on the problem in March 2007, April 2008, November 2011, July 2014 and April 2015. But lack of vigorous industry-wide enforcement has allowed widespread violations to go unchecked.
Neiman Marcus and Eminent/Revolve are already under 20-year cease-and-desist orders from the FTC following an HSUS petition that identified similar violations in 2011.
More details can be found in the links below:
WASHINGTON, 1 FEBRUARY 2016 – Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor settled a civil contempt suit brought by Fur Free Alliance member The Humane Society of the United States after an investigation revealed more than 40 fur advertising and labeling violations between December 2013 and November 2014.
The HSUS’ investigation uncovered evidence that Saks and Lord & Taylor violated the Fur Products Labeling Act and 2009 court orders prohibiting false advertising of animal fur garments. Among other violations, the retailers falsely marketed real animal fur garments as “faux,” incorrectly advertised fur from raccoon dogs – a species in the dog (Canidae) family – as “raccoon” fur and failed to disclose fur garments’ country of origin (where the animal was killed) and other legally required information.
Under the settlements, Saks and Lord & Taylor certify that they will cease selling fur from raccoon dogs, one of the most horribly mistreated and commonly misrepresented species in the fur trade, pay The HSUS approximately $50,000 in investigation costs and legal fees and agree to pay additional damages if they breach the agreement in the future.
Ralph Henry, director of litigation at The HSUS, said:
“We are pleased with the terms of these settlements, which ensure that Saks and Lord & Taylor will phase out raccoon dog fur, while holding the retailers accountable for continuing to falsely advertise fur garments despite their prior agreement to stop. While the production of animal fur inherently involves suffering, and we urge companies to go completely fur-free, the killing of raccoon dogs for their fur has been repeatedly shown to be among the worst of the worst. The HSUS will continue to aggressively pursue fur vendors who ignore their legal and contractual obligations to protect both animals and consumers.”
LONDON, 26 NOVEMBER 2015 – As winter approaches, and the majority of the British public continue to reject the idea of wearing real animal fur, investigations by Fur Free Alliance member Humane Society International/UK and the BBC’s consumer show Fake Britain expose how inadequate and misleading garment labelling is leaving consumers without clear information to tell real animal fur from fake. High-street stores House of Fraser and TK Maxx are among retailers found to be selling real fur garments as fake.
As market stalls and shops stock up with warm clothing and accessories, especially this season’s trend of fur bobble hats and pompom key chains, HSI/UK launches its new campaign, ‘Make It Fake.’ The campaign will raise consumer awareness of the prevalence of animal fur on items shoppers may assume are fake fur, and will call for robust labelling laws that enable ethical consumers to buy fake fur with confidence. Claire Bass, executive director of HSI/UK, said:
“More than 100 million rabbits, foxes, raccoon dogs and other animals endure appalling lives and suffer terrible deaths just to make cheap trim for coats, hats and gloves that end up on the UK high-street. Polls confirm that the vast majority of people want nothing to do with this sickening trade yet our research shows that real fur is being widely sold in markets and stores. One logical explanation is that unsuspecting consumers are being duped into buying real fur assuming that it’s fake.”
In an exposé by HSI/UK and the BBC’s Fake Britain programme that aired this week, lab tests revealed that both independent and chain stores, including House of Fraser and TK Maxx, were found to be selling items containing real animal fur, either mis-labelled as fake or not labelled at all.
It is alarming that current EU fur labelling laws are inadequate and poorly implemented, creating a confused marketplace. Unlike food labelling where ingredients must be clearly listed on packaging, garment labels do not have to stipulate where real fur is used in every case. Our YouGov poll shows that the vast majority (85 per cent) of consumers expect that when animal fur should be clearly marked on the label when used in the clothes and accessories they buy.
The poll also reveals that people rely most heavily on feel (50 per cent) and price (47 per cent) as lead indicators to assess whether fur is real or fake. Both can be misleading, with many real fur items cheaper than their faux fur counterparts. Life is cheap in the animal fur industry; miserably poor conditions in countries such as China – where much UK fur trim comes from – means real fur can be produced and sold very cheaply. At many online wholesalers, retailers can bulk-buy real rabbit fur trim for £1 per metre, a 70cm raccoon dog fur hood trim for £3, or a raccoon dog fur pompom for just 30p.
In March this year, the government welcomed new EU textile labelling regulations and acknowledged the need to safeguard consumer choice and confidence around products containing animal parts. The then Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, Jo Swinson, said
“It is important that consumers have accurate information to enable them to make informed choices when they are buying textile products that contain non-textile parts of animal origin.”
However, the current legislation is both confusing and poorly enforced and wants BIS to take urgent action by calling for the EU legislation to be improved. Claire Bass said:
“It is unacceptable that inadequate labelling could be leading British consumers to buy real fur believing it to be fake. So we’re calling on the government to introduce clear labelling of all animal fur items including the animal species and country of origin, as is already the case in the United States. Only then will consumers have the information they need to make informed, ethical shopping choices.”