Humane Society Targets Retailers for “Faux Fur” Claims

By Melanie Perez [December 28th, 2011] 

faux fur

According to WWD, the Humane Society of the U.S. has filed a legal petition with the Federal Trade Commission against 11 major retailers for allegedly mislabeling and falsely advertising fur-trimmed products. According to the Humane Society, the retailers advertised various items as being made with “faux” fur when it reality the products contained real animal fur. Jonathan R. Lovvorn, Senior Vice President and Chief Counsel for animal protection litigation for the HSUS, claims that “there is an epidemic of false advertising in the fur industry.” He adds that, “Consumers have a right to know what they’re buying, but many major retailers just don’t seem to care if consumers are deceived, even though real fur is something many consumers are determined to avoid.”

The petition filed by the HSUS names Dillard’s, Neiman Marcus, Barneys, Beyond the Rack, ShopBop, Dr. Jays, Revolve Clothing, Gilt Groupe, Ssense, Summit Sports and Yoox, each of which the Humane Society claims falsely advertised jackets, cardigans, shoes or other products as containing faux fur. The organization alleges that an independent laboratory tested the products and confirmed that they contain real animal fur. Attempts have been made to contact all of the retailers named in the petition. A spokeswoman for Barneys said, “We recently became aware of a single instance where an item made of fur was inadvertently referred to as faux fur in the listing on our Web site. Barneys immediately corrected the error when it was brought to our attention prior to the filing of the petition by the Humane Society. Barneys would never intentionally mislabel or misclassify any items that we sell.”

The petition alleges that the practices of these major retailers misleads consumers into unknowingly purchasing animal-fur products and increases consumer confusion over the type and origin of fur that is used on clothing and accessories in violation of the federal Fur Products Labeling Act. According to WWD, the Fur Products Labeling Act requires that animal-fur products be labeled with the name of the species used, the manufacturer and country of origin, and prohibits the sale and advertising of fur products that have been falsely or deceptively advertised.
Violations can carry up to a $5,000 fine and up to a year in prison. Just last year, the Truth in Fur Labeling Act was enacted to strengthen the Fur Products Labeling Act which had resulted in a loophole that allowed some fur-trimmed garments be sold without labels. This new law is focusing on the prevention of false advertising by requiring retailers to affix clear and truthful labels on their garments.

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