Boohoo is on the hook for selling real fur and passing it off as fake.
The U.K.’s Advertising Standards Authority, an independent commission dedicated to truth in advertising, has ruled that the fashion e-tailer advertised a product as containing faux fur when, in fact, it was made of genuine animal fur.
The product in question, Boohoo’s “Faux Fur Pom Pom Jumper,” was clearly advertised as being composed of faux fur, but a complaint levied by Humane Society International (HSI) alleged that its independent testing had determined that the pom poms were composed of real animal fur, “most likely rabbit,” HSI noted.
“It’s completely unacceptable that compassionate consumers setting out to buy fake fur are being misled into buying animal fur,” Claire Bass, the executive director of HSI UK, told the Guardian. “These two examples are the latest in a long list of ‘fake faux fur’ items we’ve found for sale, so we hope that the ASA’s rulings will send a strong message to the industry and make retailers work harder to give consumers confidence in avoiding cruel animal fur.”
Boohoo has already been busted by the HSI for selling mislabeled fur products. In 2017, HSI and Sky News released the results of an investigation that found Amazon, TK Maxx, Groupon, Etsy and Boohoo, among others, had misled consumers about the fur content of some of their products. In November of 2018, the BBC found that some of those same retailers, including Amazon and TK Maxx, were continuing to sell mislabeled products.
Boohoo responded to HSI and ASA’s latest request to stop selling the product on its website, but according to the ASA, the company has denied that the product tested positive for fur in its own independent analysis. Boohoo reiterated to the ASA that it had a “strong commitment” to prevent the sale of real fur in its products.
Boohoo’s quality control process includes inspections that measure the feel and consistency of the “fur,” along with a burn test that even the ASA agrees are standard in the industry. However, the ruling stated that, although Boohoo had those procedures in place, that the company did not maintain a detailed record on the tested stock beyond a pass/fail designation.
“Boohoo’s records showed that a sample of fur from the product in question had passed internal tests,” the ASA acknowledged. “However, given that we had seen evidence that the product obtained by Humane Society International contained real animal fur, we concluded that the ad was misleading and breached the Code.”
The code in question relates to the advertising codes put forth by the ASA and its sister organization, the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP)—an industry group composed of advertisers. In particular, Boohoo is said to have violated codes 3.1, a rule against misleading marketing and 3.7, a rule governing the use of unsubstantiated information to consumers without clear evidence.
Until an investigation can be completed, Boohoo will not place any further orders with the external U.K.-based supplier of the allegedly real “faux fur.”
Fur has become a touchy subject in the U.K. and the broader world of fashion. Luxury brands are dropping real fur from their collections left and right and Parliament opened a separate investigation into fur product mislabeling in 2018, finding that “reports of real fur being sold as fake fur shows that retailers are flouting their responsibility to consumers.”