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Amazon Settles Cashmere Lawsuit

A global cashmere trade association has agreed to settle its dispute with Amazon over the e-commerce giant’s allegedly false advertising of “100 percent” cashmere products, heading off a courtroom showdown.

No details were given on the financial implications of the settlement, other than that each party would “bear its own fees and costs,” a court document said.

The Cashmere and Camel Hair Manufacturers Institute (CCMI), whose members include major cashmere fabric and garment manufacturers, distributors and retailers in the U.S and internationally, accused Amazon of “falsely and deceptively” advertising and misrepresenting certain products as “100 percent cashmere” on the Amazon Fashion website. The institute also contended that the items were not made in Scotland despite labels indicating as such.

Last month, CCMI filed the lawsuit against both Amazon and CS Accessories, Inc., which does business on the marketplace as City Scarf, in an effort to block the platform from further marketing and selling the purported falsely labeled garments. The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts in Boston.

On Dec. 1, U.S. district judge William G. Young gave the industry group and Amazon less than a week to settle before the trial was scheduled to take place Tuesday. Amazon initially wanted the trial to be moved to 2022 since its lead attorney was scheduled to be on vacation for part of it, but Judge Young struck down the request.

As part of the settlement, CS Accessories, which supplied many of the garments labeled as “100 Percent Cashmere Made in Scotland,” has agreed to permanently take down any garments falsely labeled as such.

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“CCMI and Amazon have resolved their dispute and look forward to collaborating to protect the interests of cashmere customers, manufacturers and sellers,” Fabio Garzena, president of CCMI, said in a statement. An Amazon representative shared the same statement with Sourcing Journal.

CCMI says its mission is to maintain the integrity of the cashmere marketplace by providing important information about the luxury textile’s value as a high-quality fabric, and as such it supports global testing laboratories and services to prove that the fiber is 100 percent authentic. The association says it pursues legal action where appropriate to challenge the mislabeling of purported cashmere garments and fabric.

In the recent case, the CCMI claimed that the “cashmere” garments were instead made entirely of a type of synthetic, petroleum-based acrylic that is cheaper, less warm and more flammable than cashmere, and contains chemicals that are not naturally present in the animal fiber.

The November complaint documented how the institute bought 18 random six foot-by-one foot scarves that were advertised both as “100 Percent Cashmere” and “Cashmere Made in Scotland,” before sending them to an independent textile lab. Test results showed that the garments were instead 100 percent acrylic, and were not made in Scotland.

The source of the manufactured garments has not been revealed in the settlement, although CS Accessories is based out of Edgewater, N.J.

CCMI sought the court order on the grounds that the alleged counterfeit cashmere goods continue to cause “irreparable harm” and could reduce overall demand for legitimate products manufactured with cashmere.

Karl Spilhaus, the president emeritus of CCMI, said in an affidavit that the association’s member manufacturers in Scotland in particular would see adverse impacts, including Johnstons of Elgin and Todd & Duncan.

Amazon has had a long history with counterfeit goods, and its spotty reputation with handling them compelled the company to take extra measures such as working with law enforcement and using machine learning technologies to curb the problem.

Earlier this year, the company said that it blocked more than 10 billion listings it suspected to be fraudulent before they reached the highly trafficked marketplace in 2020, while blocking 6 million attempts to create duplicate accounts and seizing more than 2 million products that were sent to its fulfillment centers. However, Amazon still hasn’t been able to get a full grip on the problems often posed by its third-party sellers.