Many major retailers may face criminal charges after selling animal fur as “faux fur” to consumers.
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) recently sent a petition to the Federal Trade Commission to take action against 17 retailers that falsely advertised and sold fur apparel. HSUS discovered a total of 37 garments combined from all retailers that were labeled “faux fur” when they were in fact made with animal fur from coyotes, rabbits and raccoons.
According to the petition, “As described herein, The HSUS has amassed evidence that the retailers have offered for sale wearing apparel or accessories that were described—in online advertisements and/or on labels, hangtags, or other printed media attached to or accompanying the items—as being made with ‘faux fur’ (fake fur) when in fact animal fur is one of the materials making up the items.”
Retailers accused of fur mislabeling violations from December 2011 to December 2015 included 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. The petition also named 32 different apparel brands that were sold at the retailers, including Elie Tahari and Rag & Bone.
“Consumers would be horrified to know they have been duped into purchasing animal fur when they thought they were buying a humane alternative,” said HSUS Fur-Free Campaign research and enforcement manager Pierre Grzybowski. “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.”
Selling coats and cardigans as “faux fur” when they contain animal fur violates the Federal Trade Commission Act, the Fur Products Labeling Act and in additional cases, existing cease-and desist orders put in place by agencies. Penalties vary from one year in prison and/or fines up to $40,000.
Eminent/Revolve and Neiman Marcus are two retailers that already have FTC 20-year cease-and-desist orders after the HSUS issued a petition with similar violations five years ago.
The petition is part of ongoing HSUS investigations that involve falsely labeled garments in the animal fur apparel industry. Previously, HSUS addressed this issue to the FTC in March 2007, April 2008, November 2011, July 2014 and April 2015. With a lack of industry-wide advocacy, many of this mislabeling violations remain unchecked and unsolved.