Fashion Scandals: False Labeling of Fur-Trimmed Products

Angelique Vita Rivard

With the winter shopping season upon us it is important to remember the animals who sacrifice their lives for the production of many of the items commonly purchased, including leather, fur, and wool. Within the fur industry alone, millions of animals including rabbits, raccoon dogs, minks, bobcats, foxes and even domestic dogs and cats, are killed annually to make unnecessary fur products. These animals are often skinned alive. But given the advancements in technology, governmental oversight and surged ethical inquiry it must be easy to find humane fur alternatives in stores. Or is it?

Recently, the spotlight has come down on Kohl’s retailer stores after an investigation conducted by The Humane Society of the United States revealed that handbags listed as being made with faux fur were actually trimmed with real rabbit fur. Check out the detailed story on how HSUS uncovered the scandal and take a look at the investigation’s subsequent results.

Unfortunately, this is not novel news. Just last March, another HSUS investigation discovered that coats designed by Marc Jacobs designer labeled as faux-fur were actually real fur coming from Chinese raccoon dogs. Raccoon dogs are members of the dog or canine (Canidae) family who are often skinned alive for their soft fur. The Marc Jacobs scandal prompted, Manhattan Assemblywoman, Linda Rosenthal, to focus on state legislation mandating that all fur products (real or faux) be labeled appropriately.

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Caged raccoon dog.

So, where’s the law here? What legal protections do both animals and consumers have against scandals such as these. Because outrages like the ones from Kohl’s and Marc Jacobs are actually much more than scandals, they are crimes. As it turns out, there are virtually no animal protection laws and only a few consumer protection laws pertaining to fur labeling. Selling animal fur as “faux fur” is a violation of the Federal Trade Commission Act, under its prohibition against “unfair or deceptive acts or practices” in commerce, but the penalty is limited to $16,000 per violation. Continue reading

Schwarzenegger’s Legacy: Skinned Animals

David Cassuto

Amid all the hagiography (outside of California) for soon to be ex-Governor Schwarzenegger, comes this: he vetoed a bill that would have required clothing made with fur to be properly labeled.  Currently, so-called faux fur products are actually made of real fur, just the fur from less “desirable” animals.  The gov was concerned about cost.  Apparently,  the $1,000 penalty was just too harsh for manufacturers who deliberately deceive the buying public.  Never mind that Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts and Wisconsin have such labeling requirements or that even the the Congress is getting into the act or that, by golly, it’s just the right thing to do. The judgment of history can be brutal indeed.