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Holiday Shoppers Beware: Six Major Retailers Selling Real Fur as Faux
December 20, 2007
The Humane Society of the United States is warning shoppers to be on the lookout for real fur described as faux when shopping at department stores and online retailers this holiday season.
Following up on last winter's HSUS investigation that uncovered a faux fur scandal in the apparel and retail industry, HSUS discovered again this winter that many leading retailers—including Bloomingdale's, Neiman Marcus, Lord & Taylor, Dillard's, Saks Fifth Avenue and Yoox.com—have not addressed this consumer deception.
Certain jackets sold by these companies with the brand names Burberry, Andrew Marc, Marc New York, Preston & York, Aqua, Ramosport and Adam+Eve were found to be falsely advertised or mislabeled as faux fur or "ecological" fur* when in fact they are trimmed with real animal fur.
"Shoppers should be outraged that companies continue to sell as 'faux' what is actually real fur, perhaps from animals skinned alive in China," said Kristin Leppert, director of The HSUS's fur-free campaign. "Congress and the Federal Trade Commission need to take swift action to protect consumers and animals."
Retailer Brand Advertised Labeled Actual Content
SaksFifthAvenue.com Burberry "faux" No fur label
Neiman Marcus Andrew Marc -- "polyester"
NeimanMarcus.com Adam+Eve "Faux" "rabbit"
Lord & Taylor Marc New York -- "polyester"
raccoon dog, rabbit
Dillards.com Preston & York "Faux" "fox" and "raccoon"
Yoox.com Ramosport "Ecological fur"* "raccoon"
Bloomingdales.com Aqua "faux" "rabbit"
*Yoox.com customer service indicated that garments advertised as "ecological fur" are fake fur.
The HSUS identified the fur as real through laboratory testing and by cutting open the lining of the trim to reveal skin. In contrast, the hairs of fake fur contain a fabric or mesh backing.
Loopholes and Labels
Falsely advertising or mislabeling a real fur product is a violation of the federal Fur Products Labeling Act, which the Federal Trade Commission is empowered to enforce by seizure of false or deceptively advertised or labeled garments, the initiation of proceedings for injunctive relief, and the imposition of monetary penalties, which can range up to $5,000 per violation.
The violations documented by The HSUS include a Burberry brand jacket advertised online by Saks Fifth Avenue as "faux." The jacket's label does not indicate that it contains fur, but laboratory tests reveal that it is trimmed with rabbit fur. The Fur Products Labeling Act currently requires the labeling of fur apparel only if the garments contains more than $150 worth of fur.
"Because of this loophole, consumers don't even realize they've been duped into buying real fur," said Leppert.
Of the two jackets falsely labeled "trim: polyester," one is a size-four girl's jacket bought in the children's section of Neiman Marcus. Test results reveal that the coat actually contains raccoon dog fur.
An Ongoing Problem
Last winter, of 25 fur-trimmed jackets tested by The HSUS, every single one was falsely advertised, falsely labeled, unlabeled or had a combination of these problems. Twenty were identified by laboratory testing as raccoon dog and three as domestic dog.
Raccoon dogs and domestic dogs are both raised for their fur in China—a country with no functioning animal welfare laws, and where investigators have documented animals being skinned alive for their fur. Like many other species, rabbits raised for their fur spend their entire lives in tiny wire cages. Much of the world's fur is processed in China, where environmental problems associated with the industry are receiving scrutiny.
In the U.S. Congress, Representatives Jim Moran (D-Va.) and Mike Ferguson (R-N.J.) have introduced the Dog and Cat Fur Prohibition Enforcement Act, H.R. 891, that would require labeling of all fur garments, regardless of value. The legislation also prohibits the sale of raccoon dog fur. The bill has more than 150 co-sponsors in the House, and a Senate version is expected to be introduced soon.
What You Can Do
Ask the FTC to crack down on violators of the Fur Products Labeling Act, either online or by phone: 1 (877) FTC-HELP (382-4357).
Please ask your representatives to support better labeling laws.
Donate to support the Fur-Free campaign's investigative work.
Posted by Tatiana at 12/27/07 02:52:01I refuse to wear faux fur. Why would I want to look like I have a dead animal around my neck? It's not that I think faux fur is bad (although in this situation obviously it is cuz it's not faux) I just think it's tacky and ugly. If I wanted beautiful fur around my neck I'd snuggle with my dog (which I do!).
Posted by AlmostVeggie at 12/28/07 23:04:47I bought some boots a few weeks ago and didn't realize until I brought them home that they had a furry lining around it. I felt like an idiot. I went to the company's website and it says it uses "microfiber". I'm not sure if that's true, but I feel dumb trudging around in my fur winter boots.
Posted by SynthVegan at 12/31/07 08:10:34Yeah I understand how you feel. Because anytime I see someone wearing something fur-like, I think it's fur and automatically think bad of them. You can't tell so, I just assume.
Can you return the boots? Does the fur show? Don't worry too much, at least it's faux.