Recently, the retailer Kohl’s was found to be selling real fur on Nicole Lee Fabiola handbags marked faux fur. It turned out the real fur trim was rabbit fur, according to a Humane Society of the United States warning.
“Consumers should be aware that animal fur is still being sold as ‘faux’ by major retailers,” Pierre Grzybowski, research and enforcement manager for the Fur-Free Campaign of The HSUS, said in a news release.
While it used to be common practice to sell rabbit fur and label it as mink or other expensive type of fur. However, the tide has shifted and consumers have shown a much higher demand in fake fur. People are more aware of how killing animals for their fur is nothing more than cruelty to animals. Thankfully there are many realistic-looking types of fake fur now.
Mislabeling fur is a crime. It’s a violation of the Federal Trade Commission Act and comes with a penalty of up to $16,000 per violation. So, it wouldn’t seem like it would make much business sense to try to fool people. Because the demand for faux fur has risen exponentially, many products often are mislabeled.
One embarrassing case was that of Neiman Marcus. In 2008, the clothing company claimed they were selling fake fur coats. However, an investigation discovered that the coats were actually made of raccoon dog (an animal native of East Asia). Neiman Marcus had to pay $25,000 as a settlement.
In 2010, President Obama signed a bill, The Truth in Fur Labeling Act, into law. Basically, the law closed a loophole that said fake fur trim on items costing less than $150 (value of fur) did not have to be labeled. However, as was recently discovered, that’s not always happening.
Another stipulation of the law was that all fur garments be labeled with the name of the animal and the country where the animal was killed.
What is frightening is that some products arriving from China have actually been found to be made of dog and cat fur. While it’s illegal to import anything made from dog or cat into the U.S., clothing manufacturers need to be aware that outsourcing may lead to unethical practices or illegal actions, even unwittingly.
Just because fur is cheaper there and there are no strict regulations or animal welfare laws, that doesn’t make it okay. As far as culprits go, China really is at the top of the list as they are the largest fur exporter in the world – legally and illegally.
“More than 75 million animals, including rabbits, raccoon dogs, mink, bobcats, foxes and domestic dogs and cats, are killed annually worldwide to make fur products,” according to the HSUS. Check out their guide on how to tell if the fur is real or faux. Don’t get fooled.