Faux Fur Investigation Stirs Little Response from Fashion IndustryPosted by Stefan Heller, ALDF Litigation Fellow on March 13, 2013
Who wears fur anymore? It is an unquestionably cruel luxury that only the most callous would put on their shopping list. Plus, with recent federal legislation on fur labeling and the ubiquity of faux trims and linings it seems like real fur is becoming a thing of the past. Sadly, that isn’t the case and there may be many consumers wearing real fur who don’t even realize it.
Earlier this month, the Humane Society of the United States released the details of an undercover investigation into the use and labeling of fur in the fashion industry. The investigation revealed that some of the fur used on designer jackets and sweaters was not identified by its labeling at all. Worse still, the investigation found several Marc Jacobs jackets, sold on-line by retailer Century 21, that were labeled "faux fur" but were in fact made from the hair of Chinese raccoon dogs. The raccoon dog is a wild member of the canine family, often raised in deplorable conditions on Chinese fur farms and then skinned alive. Their pelts are used to manufacture garments because they are frequently cheaper than fake fur.
Consumers who purchased these items believing that they were constructed from synthetic materials are likely outraged, and rightly so. Despite federal law that requires the name and county of origin of fur to appear on a garment’s label and their own best efforts to avoid products that cause animal suffering, these consumers were duped. They trusted the store and the designer’s advertisement and ended up with a product they found objectionable. This highlights the most upsetting part of this story in my opinion, the failure of the fashion industry to take responsibility for providing consumers with accurate information.
Marc Jacobs has yet to comment on the investigation and Century 21 posted on its Facebook page in an attempt to shift the blame to garment manufacturers. Jacobs and Century 21 should be telling the public how they plan to change their practices. They should be responding to this investigation with efforts to ensure that the items they sell are what they claim to be. Instead they are trying to pass the buck to factories in China. Consumers deserve to be able to make animal friendly decisions. Having accurate information is a prerequisite to doing so. Retail stores and designers should be the leading voices for truthful information about their products. Instead their excuses for why mislabeling is not their fault make this situation even more offensive.