Some of this seasons faux fur apparel is very realistic. Thats because, according to the Humane Society of the United States, its not faux at all, but real fur being purposely mislabeled, in violation of federal law.
The group says the mislabeled fur garments are being sold at six major retailers: Bloomingdale's, Neiman Marcus, Lord & Taylor, Dillard's, Saks Fifth Avenue and Yoox.com.
Certain jackets sold by these companies, under the brand names Burberry, Andrew Marc, Marc New York, Preston & York, Aqua, Ramosport and Adam & Eve, were found to be falsely advertised or mislabeled as faux fur or "ecological" fur when in fact they are trimmed with real animal fur, the Human Society said in a statement.
This isnt the first time this has happened, the group claims. It says its investigation last winter found the same stores selling real fur as fake fur.
"Shoppers should be outraged that companies continue to sell as fauxwhat is actually real fur, perhaps from animals skinned alive in China," said Kristin Leppert, director of The HSUS's fur-free campaign. "Congress and the Federal Trade Commission need to take swift action to protect consumers and animals."
Yoox.com customer service indicated that garments advertised as "ecological fur" are fake fur, the group said.
The HSUS said it identified the fur as real through laboratory testing and by cutting open the lining of the trim to reveal skin. In contrast, the hairs of fake fur contain a fabric or mesh backing.
Loopholes and labels
Falsely advertising or mislabeling a real fur product is a violation of the federal Fur Products Labeling Act, which the Federal Trade Commission is empowered to enforce by seizure of false or deceptively advertised or labeled garments, the initiation of proceedings for injunctive relief, and the imposition of monetary penalties, which can range up to $5,000 per violation.
Despite the groups charges, the retailers may not, in fact, be in technical violation of the law. And therein, according to HSUS, lies the rub.
Among the alleged violations pointed out by HSUS is a Burberry brand jacket advertised online by Saks Fifth Avenue as "faux." The group says the jacket's label does not indicate that it contains fur, but laboratory tests reveal that it is trimmed with rabbit fur. The Fur Products Labeling Act currently requires the labeling of fur apparel only if the garments contain more than $150 worth of fur.
"Because of this loophole, consumers don't even realize they've been duped into buying real fur," said Leppert.
Of the two jackets falsely labeled "trim: polyester," one is a size-four girl's jacket bought in the children's section of Neiman Marcus. Test results reveal that the coat actually contains raccoon dog fur, the group said.
Not the first time
Last winter, of 25 fur-trimmed jackets tested by The HSUS, the group says every single one was falsely advertised, falsely labeled, unlabeled or had a combination of these problems. Twenty were identified by laboratory testing as raccoon dog and three as domestic dog.
Raccoon dogs and domestic dogs are both raised for their fur in Chinaa country HSUS says has no functioning animal welfare laws, and where investigators have documented animals being skinned alive for their fur. Like many other species, rabbits raised for their fur spend their entire lives in tiny wire cages. Much of the worlds fur is processed in China, where environmental problems associated with the industry are receiving scrutiny.
In the Congress, Representatives Jim Moran (D-Va.) and Mike Ferguson (R-N.J.) have introduced the Dog and Cat Fur Prohibition Enforcement Act, that would require labeling of all fur garments, regardless of value. The legislation also prohibits the sale of raccoon dog fur. The bill has more than 150 co-sponsors in the House, and a Senate version is expected to be introduced soon.