Last week the Humane Society of the United States issued a consumer warning about products that were falsely labeled as faux fur being sold at Kohl’s.
According to the HSUS, investigators purchased a few different Nicole Lee handbags from Kohls.com in October and November that were advertised as having “faux-fur” trim. After examining them in a lab, it was determined that the fur on the bags was actually real rabbit fur.
Not only is duping customers unethical, it’s also illegal under the Federal Trade Commission Act, which prohibits “unfair or deceptive acts or practices” in commerce and carries a civil penalty of up to $16,000 per violation.
Unfortunately for fur-bearing animals, this isn’t the first time a major retailer has been busted for misrepresenting fur products.
In 2008, the HSUS found several fur coats made from raccoon dogs that were labeled as faux at Neiman Marcus, along with other products that were mislabeled at Dillard’s, Lord & Taylor, Macy’s, Saks Inc. and by designer Andrew Marc.
Settlements were eventually reached in 2010 following a lawsuit that resulted in Andrew Marc and Lord & Taylor phasing out and banning raccoon dog fur and to all agreeing to institute new garment labeling and advertising policies. According to the HSUS, fur from raccoon dogs is the most commonly misrepresented type of fur and the kind that’s most likely to go without a label.
Other recent investigations have found domestic dog fur in products and other retailers mislabeling real fur as faux, including Century 21, DrJays and Revolve Clothing.
Worse still is that this is still happening despite the passage of the Truth in Fur Labeling Act, which was signed into law in 2010 and requires that fur garments be labeled with the species of animal they’re made from and the country they were killed in – closing a loophole that previously had allowed fur-trimmed garments to go unlabeled if the value of the fur was $150 or less.
“Consumers should be aware that animal fur is still being sold as ‘faux’ by major retailers – in this case Kohl’s. We’re calling on Kohl’s to adopt a fur-free policy and more robust quality control program, and urging consumers to learn how to tell animal fur from fake fur so they can shop with confidence,” said Pierre Grzybowski, research and enforcement manager for the HSUS’ Fur-Free Campaign.
Millions of animals are killed every year unnecessarily simply for fashion. The industry continues to try and convince consumers that fur as a sustainable, eco-friendly, regulated product, but the truth is it’s anything but and uses more toxic chemicals and energy than synthetic alternatives to make.
It also causes intense suffering for fur-bearers who are raised on farms before being violently killed by being gassed, electrocuted, poisoned or having their necks broken. Even the fur that comes from wild animals is the result of suffering at the hands of trappers who use leghold traps, body-crushing Conibear traps and snares, which not only cause suffering for target animals, but also pose a risk to non-target animals, threatened and endangered species, people and pets.
Some continue to support faux-fur products, but our continued demand for these cruelty-free alternatives is clearly helping perpetuate the market for fur, the belief that fur is fashionable and trouble with mislabeling. Until the demand for fur dries up, the industry will continue to push its products and uncaring designers will continue to use it.
Kohl’s, meanwhile, has removed the items from its website and issued an apology to roughly 50 customers who bought the fur-lined bags and said it would take them back with no questions asked, in addition to stating that it’s ending its relationship with the vendor.
If you would like to support businesses that have taken a public stand against using fur, visit Fur Free Retailer for a global list of compassionate retailers.
Photo credit: Thinkstock
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