Washington—Although the new Truth in Fur Labeling Act—which includes most accessories—has been the law of the land since President Obama signed it more than a year ago, the one-year grace period for enforcing the new standards ends Sunday, March 18.
Groups, including the The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and Humane Society Legislative Fund, say they are “putting retailers on alert” that they could received fines and even jail time if they sell animal fur trimmed garments (and accessories) without proper information in advertising and on labels as required by the Act.
The Truth in Fur Labeling Act has been one of the few pieces of legislation to receive nearly overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress. The law a loophole in federal laws that previously allowed many fur-trimmed garments to go unlabeled if the value of the animal fur material was $150 or less. Now all garments, including all accessories classifications (except handbags) must be labeled.
“Retailers should check their shelves and websites to ensure that any animal fur garments are properly advertised and labeled—which includes providing the species and country of origin of the animal, even on fur trim,” said Michael Markarian, chief program and policy officer at HSUS. “We urge the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to aggressively pursue fur advertising and labeling scofflaws, both to protect consumers and to create a level playing field for law-abiding retailers.”
FTC to Pursue ‘Advertising and Labeling Scofflaws’
Under the provisions of the new law, the FTC is charged with enforcing the Fur Products Labeling Act and protecting consumers from deception, primarily when fur products were labels as “faux” when they really consisted of animal fur. The FTC permitted a one-year enforcement grace period for any previously exempt garments that were already in retail stores.
After the grace period ends Sunday, violators can receive up to a $5,000 fine and up to a year in prison. Each instance of mislabeling is considered a separate violation.
Besides enjoying support from Congress and the President, the Act has been endorsed by a range of designers and retailers including: Gucci Group, Burberry, Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Buffalo Exchange, Overstock.com, Ed Hardy, Victoria Bartlett, Charlotte Ronson, and Andrew Marc, among others.
The federal fur label loophole was closed following a series of investigatations by HSUS that turned up scores of jackets trimmed with animal fur being sold at many major retailers across the country without labels or falsely advertised as “faux fur.”
Raccoon dog fur is the most commonly unlabeled, falsely advertised, and misrepresented species found being sold in the United States, and there is documentation of this animal being skinned alive in China, according to HSUS.
Despite its widespread support in the fashion industry, some retailers apparently have yet to stop mislabeling on their store floors.
In November 2011, HSUS filed a legal petition with the FTC detailing evidence of 15 different animal fur-trimmed items falsely advertised as being made with “faux” fur, even though the products contain real animal fur.
That petition named Dillard’s, Neiman Marcus, Barneys, Beyond the Rack, ShopBop, Dr. Jays, Revolve Clothing, Gilt Groupe, Ssense, Summit Sports, and Yoox, each of which falsely advertised jackets, cardigans, shoes or other products as containing “faux” fur.
HSUS said the alleged mislabeled merchandise including garments and accessories from brands such as Marc by Marc Jacobs, Elizabeth and James by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Mark + James by Badgley Mischka, Crown Holder, Mackage, and Woolrich.
Independent laboratory testing confirmed that the products contain real animal fur.
For an overview on the new fur labeling regulation, click on the FTC’s “In-Fur-mation Alert”.