Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters
WASHINGTON–The Humane Society of the United States has filed a lawsuit against six major retailers and fashion designers alleging they falsely advertise and label fur garments.
The suit claims that Dillard's, Lord & Taylor, Macy's, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and designer Andrew Marc misrepresent fur products by labelling and marketing them as "faux fur," when they are not; or by advertising and labelling products as common raccoon, fox or rabbit fur, when they are really made from raccoon dog, a canine species that is raised for fur in Asia.
The complaint also alleges that the retailers are in violation of the federal Fur Products Labeling Act and Federal Trade Commission Act, which prohibit mislabelling of fur products.
Rebecca Judd, senior attorney with the Humane Society, said the group is seeking a court order to halt to what she called deceptive business practices by retailers.
"We filed this after we tried now for several years to have the fur industry stop their widespread false advertising and labelling," Judd said. She added the group wants to alert consumers, especially those concerned about animal welfare, that fur garments are "best left out of the shopping bag."
Mislabelling fur is a misdemeanor in the United States punishable by up to a $5,000 (U.S.) fine or a year in prison. Fur valued at less than $150 doesn't have to be labelled.
In Canada, the Competition Act requires labels to be accurate, but there is no requirement that fur be identified at all.
Representatives from Macy's and Neiman Marcus said they don't comment on pending litigation. Dillard's, Lord & Taylor and Andrew Marc did not return telephone calls for comment. A representative from Saks could not be reached.
Judd said the suit was filed in Washington on Monday under its Consumer Protection Procedures Act because the Humane Society focused much of its investigation in the Dictrict of Columbia area.
Since it began investigating in 2005, Judd said the Humane Society has sent dozens of letters to retailers – including those named in the suit – informing them of their findings.
Some companies, including Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger stopped selling fur products, Judd said. Others, such as rap artist Sean (Diddy) Combs, quit producing coats from his Sean John line that had raccoon dog fur; and rapper Jay-Z pulled coats with raccoon dog from his Rocawear label.
Raccoon dogs resemble oversized, fluffy raccoons and aren't kept as pets. According to the suit, more than 1.5 million of them are being raised for their fur in China, and have been documented to be skinned alive. Importing raccoon dog fur isn't illegal.
Judd said the Humane Society did not receive a "written commitment to stop selling mislabelled fur" from the six defendants after it alerted them to the group's findings.
The defendants are also among more than 20 companies named in two legal petitions the Humane Society filed earlier this year and in 2007 with the Federal Trade Commission, which enforces the federal fur labelling act.
In the petitions, the animal rights group asks the commission to fine the high-end retailers and designers of clothing that contains mislabelled fur. The group also would like inventories seized and, possibly, charges filed.
In 2007, Charles Jayson, chief executive of Andrew Marc, disputed the Humane Society and stated that all fur on his coats labelled as raccoon contains "only farm-bred raccoon fur from Finland, and our items labeled `faux fur' are a 100 per cent synthetic fabric."
The U.S. Humane Society said it began investigating mislabelled fur claims after the society got a tip from someone who bought a coat with trim labelled as faux fur that felt real. At the time, teams bought coats from popular retailers and then had the coats tested by mass spectrometry, which measures the mass and sequence of proteins.
The society said most of the fur came from China.
The Humane Society of the United States and Andrew Marc (Andrew & Suzanne Company, Inc.) have reached a settlement in a lawsuit filed last year alleging that six of the nation's largest retailers and fashion designers have repeatedly engaged in false advertising and mislabeling of fur garments.
Pursuant to the agreement, fashion designer Andrew Marc will phase out all use of raccoon dog fur in its Andrew Marc and Marc New York lines, reform its garment labeling practices and endorse legislation to close a loophole in federal law which allows many fur-trimmed items to be sold without informing consumers whether and what kind of fur is present in the garment.
The litigation is proceeding against the non-settling defendants, including major retailers Dillard's, Lord & Taylor, Macy's, Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue.
Over the past three years, The HSUS identified dozens of falsely advertised or falsely labeled fur garments across the retail industry. Although many of these garments are advertised or labeled as "faux fur," 70 percent of the garments actually contained fur from the raccoon dog, a member of the canine family. Andrew Marc represents that its fur comes from farm-raised animals in Finland.
The HSUS brought the lawsuit under the D.C. Consumer Protection Procedures Act alleging that the defendants are (1) advertising and labeling products as "faux fur," when they are, in fact, derived from real animal fur or (2) advertising and labeling products as common raccoon, fox or rabbit fur when they are, in fact, made from the wholly distinct species of raccoon dog—a member of the canine family.
The complaint also alleges violations of the federal Fur Products Labeling Act and Federal Trade Commission Act, which prohibit the false advertising and mislabeling of any fur product.
Since 2006, The HSUS has sent dozens of letters to companies informing them of problems and urging corrective action. The HSUS also filed two legal petitions with the Federal Trade Commission—one in March 2007 and the other in April 2008—seeking enforcement action and criminal and civil penalties against more than 20 companies for violations of the FPLA.
Retailers Settle Fur Lawsuit
March 15, 2010 HSUS
Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s settle fur false advertising suit
WASHINGTON ― The Humane Society of the United States and retailers Bloomingdale's and Macy's have reached a settlement agreement in a lawsuit filed in 2008 alleging that several of the nation's largest department stores and fashion designers have repeatedly engaged in false advertising and mislabeling of fur garments.
Pursuant to the agreement filed in court today, Bloomingdale's will impose upon its suppliers strict new garment labeling practices relating to fur and fur-trimmed outerwear for all 40 of its retail stores, its outlet stores and its online marketplace, and adopt new advertising procedures with respect to all fur and fur trimmed garments.
Both Bloomingdale's and Macy's have agreed to endorse legislation to close a loophole in federal advertising and labeling laws that allows many fur-trimmed items to be sold without informing consumers whether and what kind of fur those products contain.
Bloomingdale's and Macy's are the final retailers to settle the litigation. Earlier this month, the D.C. Superior Court entered a final judgment declaring that defendant Neiman Marcus violated the D.C. Consumer Protection Act, enjoining the retailer from falsely advertising the garments named in the lawsuit and requiring Neiman to pay damages and costs associated with the case. Defendants Saks Incorporated, Lord & Taylor and Andrew Marc also entered into settlement agreements in the case within the last year.
"Bloomingdale's and Macy's have taken a major step forward by joining with The Humane Society of the United States in seeking to reform existing fur labeling laws," said Jonathan R. Lovvorn, vice president and chief counsel for animal protection litigation for The HSUS. "Bloomingdale's has agreed to voluntarily strengthen its labeling and advertising standards, which will go a long way toward honoring humane-conscious consumers' strong desire to keep cruel and inhumane products out of their shopping bags."
Over the past three years, The HSUS identified dozens of falsely advertised or falsely labeled fur garments across the retail industry. Garments containing animal fur were often described as containing fur from a different animal or even as "faux" fur. Fur from raccoon dogs is the most commonly misrepresented type of fur — in addition to being described inaccurately, garments containing raccoon dog fur are commonly not labeled at all, which is allowed by a current loophole in the federal law. Raccoon dogs have been documented to be skinned alive in China.
The HSUS urges Congress to pass the Truth in Fur Labeling Act (S. 1076/H.R. 2480), introduced by Sens. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Reps. Jim Moran, D-Va., and Mary Bono Mack, R-Calif., to require accurate and consistent labeling of fur-trimmed garments regardless of dollar value.
To view the entire complaint and to learn about fur advertising and labeling issues, raccoon dogs and their mistreatment, and more, click here.
January 2010 – As part of a settlement with The HSUS, Saks Incorporated institutes new garment labeling and advertising policies to better inform consumers about whether products contain animal fur.
December 2009 – As part of a settlement with The HSUS, Lord & Taylor bans raccoon dog fur from the company's U.S. stores and institutes new garment labeling and advertising policies.
March 2009 – As part of a settlement with The HSUS, Andrew Marc agrees to phase out raccoon dog fur and reform its garment labeling policies.
November 2008 – HSUS files suit against a number of major retailers including Macy's, Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue for engaging in false advertising and mislabeling of fur garments.
February 2007 – Tests commissioned by HSUS investigators find domestic dog fur on unlabeled jackets advertised as "faux" fur.December 2006 – Tests commissioned by HSUS investigators find raccoon dog fur on jackets advertised as "faux" and labeled as other species such as raccoon or coyote.
Never buy fur! Boycott designers and stores that sell it. That such a barbaric industry exists in this day and age epitomizes the greed, cruelty, and selfishness of our species.