In the largest request for action we’ve ever submitted to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), The HSUS has asked the FTC to enforce federal consumer protection laws against 17 retailers—including Amazon, Neiman Marcus, Kohl’s, and Nordstrom—for selling falsely advertised or labeled animal fur garments or accessories.
The petition encompasses 37 items of wearing apparel and accessories sold over four years—each advertised or labeled as “faux fur,” even though we confirmed they included animal fur, from animals such as raccoon dogs, rabbits, and coyotes.
Every one of the “faux fur” coats, footwear items, key chains, handbags, and cardigans our investigator purchased and examined was found to include animal fur, in violation of the Fur Products Labeling Act and the Federal Trade Commission Act. In a few instances, the firms have violated standing consent orders issued by the FTC in response to prior HSUS investigations.
For over a decade, we’ve battled the problem of real fur being marketed and sold as fake, and in that time, on five separate occasions, we’ve asked the FTC to take action.
As the result of a lawsuit we brought in 2009, several major retailers including Saks, Macy’s, and Bloomingdales broke with others in the industry to endorse the Truth in Fur Labeling Act, which then passed in Congress in 2010. And just this January, we settled a contempt action in D.C. court brought against three major retailers for their continued false advertising of fur garments, including two of the three selling real fur marketed as “faux.”
Tens of millions of rabbits, foxes, raccoon dogs, and other animals endure terrible suffering and violent death to produce cheap trim for coats, hats, gloves, and other clothing items sold worldwide by these and other retailers.
Here, the situation could not be clearer. Americans have an absolute right to expect vigorous enforcement of any violations of law. The entire purpose of advertising and labeling is to apprise the consumer so that he or she can make an informed choice about the products in the marketplace. As more and more people are choosing to “go faux,” the importance of accurate information to consumers has only increased. The passage of the Truth in Fur Labeling Act in 2010 was intended to provide Americans with the assurance that garments containing real fur would be accurately labeled. This placed the freedom to ratify or reject cruelty to animals in the production of fur squarely in the marketplace, with the consumer, and that’s as it should be. It’s all the more unsettling that inattentive or, at worst, unscrupulous retailers are now hiding behind the “faux fur” label while continuing to use fur and fur trim deceptively in their commerce.
The government needs to crack down on such deception swiftly, not just for the sake of animals trapped in the fur trade, but also to protect the consumer’s right to ratify or to reshape the market as human attitudes trend decisively against the cruel and unnecessary use of fur. It’s past due to align the business practices of clothing retailers with the law of the land.