Real or Faux: Shoppers May Not Know

By on January 8, 2008 with 0 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

Many coat retailers have an incomplete knowledge of the fur trim on the coats they sell. And they are not taking the time to find out—even though it’s a legal responsibility.

Last winter, HSUS investigators did a little bit of pre-holiday shopping and sniffed out suspicious-looking winter coats. We found major retailers and designers selling fur-trimmed coats as faux. Others advertised the fur as real, but misidentified the species type. A good number of coats were not labeled at all. We found domesticated dog fur in some of the coats from China, and we found fur trim from raccoon dogs, a member of the dog family raised for fur in China and Finland. It was double-barreled deception for consumers.

© iStockphoto
Our investigations revealed falsely advertised
or labeled fur-trimmed coats
(see our reports
from last winter and this winter).

In response, several major designers and retailers decided to give up selling any fur: Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, and Foot Locker. But other retailers and designers stonewalled and just pressed ahead with their buying and selling of falsely advertised and mislabeled fur-trimmed garments. And that forced us to press ahead, too—with the filing of a petition with the Federal Trade Commission last spring naming 12 major retailers and designers for violations of the federal Fur Products Labeling Act. That petition is still pending before the FTC.

A year later, when our investigators did some additional holiday shopping, we had hoped the industry would have cleaned up its act. But the results reveal that the industry hasn’t changed its spots. We’ve again found real fur advertised as faux and other forms of mislabeling galore. And many of the companies at fault were the same as last year: Neiman Marcus, Andrew Marc, Lord and Taylor, and Federated Department Stores (Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s).

Buying a coat with a little fur trim is not a minor moral offense. It’s a core part of the fur business, and if we ever hope to halt the sale of the pelts of fur-bearing animals for fashion, we must contend with the killing of millions of animals, many from China, for trim.

Take a look at our video, and spread the word. If you think you have purchased a falsely advertised or mislabeled fur-trimmed coat, please tell us your story. Also, it would be a good time to contact your U.S. Representative and your two U.S. Senators in support of the Dog and Cat Fur Prohibition Enforcement Act, which strengthens the ban on selling dog and cat fur in the United States, bans the sale of raccoon dog fur, and requires labeling of any fur product regardless of value. The House bill, H.R. 891 by Reps. Jim Moran (D-Va.) and Mike Ferguson (R-N.J.), has 163 cosponsors, and the Senate bill should be introduced when the second session of the 110th Congress resumes in late January.

Until Congress and the FTC crack down on this deceptive advertising, you can check out our list of fur-free retailers and learn how to tell real fur from fake when shopping.

Humane Society International

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