Editor’s note: This post is a Care2 favorite. It was originally published on March 17, 2013. Enjoy.
Are you opposed to wearing fur? It will be an unwelcome surprise, then, to learn that you may have some hanging in your closet.
“Fur is back in a big way,” Jezebel has announced. Winter coats sport fur trim around the hoods, but that is just the beginning. Jezebel says that designer houses’ shows previewing their fall lines were heavy on fur, including those of BCBG Max Azria, Caroline Herrera, Ralph Lauren and J. Mendel.
Sadly it looks like time to break out the red paint again. But how can we distinguish between real and fake fur coats, and between people who knowingly bought real fur and people who thought their fur was fake?
People who oppose fur buy it accidentally because some clothing manufacturers and sellers are mislabeling it as “faux fur.” Much of it is from raccoon dogs (see the picture above). Both manufacturers and sellers know that Americans are less likely to buy fur if they think it came from a dog or cat, so they say it didn’t.
The fur of rabbits and other animals also winds up mislabeled as faux fur, perhaps because manufacturers realize that there is widespread opposition to using animals for fur and want to capture more customers than they could if they admitted the fur was real. I can’t think of any other reason businesses would mislabel clothing, especially since their inaccurate labels violate federal law.
An investigation into New York City’s popular discount department store Century 21 revealed real furs masquerading as fake both in the store and online. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and New York Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal conducted an undercover probe and discovered that garments with real fur lining and others with real fur trim were labeled as faux fur or were not labeled at all.
HSUS then went online and bought three Marc Jacobs jackets from Century 21′s website, which described the garments as having fake fur trim. When the jackets arrived, lo and behold — they carried labels stating that the trim was real fur from China. HSUS had the trim on one of the jackets examined and confirmed that it came from a raccoon dog. Under New York law both manufacturers and retailers are liable for mislabeled fur according to Rosenthal, who wrote the 2007 legislation.
Woody Harrelson narrates a video for HSUS that gives some very basic facts about how living animals are turned into fur products — don’t worry, they use a stuffed animal for demonstration purposes, no images of violence to real animals:
Video courtesy of HSUS
China is the largest source of fur in the world. Fur farmers there strangle, bludgeon, and electrocute some of the animals to death — the lucky ones. The rest are skinned alive, as described in the following graphic video, narrated by Olivia Munn.
Warning: this video contains disturbing images of cruelty to animals.
Video courtesy of PETA
The only way to be sure you are not buying real fur is not to buy anything represented as faux fur either. If you think you have found an instance of mislabeling, contact HSUS.
Photo credit: iStockphoto