Los Angeles—Trendy Kitson, a favorite specialty store to the Hollywood set, is the latest retailer to get caught in a labeling faux pas over three supposedly faux fur trimmed items, including a handbag.
In a report released Tuesday, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) said that the merchandise, including a Canada Goose infants jacket, Monnalisa todders jacket and a Street Level handbag purchased online at ShopKitson.com, did not contain faux fur as advertised and as labels specified. Instead, the different furs were identified as being from the Canidae family, which includes the coyote, gray wolf, red and arctic fox, raccoon dog, and others, HSUS said.
“It’s troubling that a retailer in an area like West Hollywood, which recently passed a ban on the sale of fur, wouldn’t be more aware and diligent in protecting the public from being duped,” said Pierre Grzybowski, research and enforcement manager of the Fur-Free Campaign at HSUS. “Kitson should take immediate action to contact every customer who purchased these products and to ensure that unsuspecting consumers are not duped into supporting animal suffering in the future.”
Kitson: ‘No Reason to Willfully Deceive Shoppers’
Kitson responded that it sells both real and faux fur and had no reason to willfully attempt to deceive its shoppers.
“Kitson regrets incorrectly listing the fur content on its items, and will work diligently and vigilantly to ensure content is correctly listed in the future, conducting additional research when information is omitted on products,” said David Heikka, the retailer’s spokesperson. “Kitson prides itself on its strong vendor partnerships and will continue to work with them to sell with integrity both on line and in stores. Kitson thanks the Humane Society for its efforts and for bringing this issue to its attention.”
HSUS, along with other consumer groups, has been urging stricter labeling laws after several years of investigation that found numerous retailers who sold merchandise marked as “faux fur” that turned out to be the real thing.
Under the recently enacted Fur Products Labeling Act, as of March 18, apparel and accessories containing animal fur, regardless of value, has to be advertised and labeled with the name of the animal killed for the fur, the country of origin of the fur, if the fur was dyed, and other important information.
The Federal Trade Commission oversees enforcement of the new label law which carries fines up to $5,000 and up to a year in prison for violations. Although the new fur label law includes nearly all accessories except handbags, a mislabeled or non-labeled handbags with fur would still fall under general federal and state consumer protection laws.
Grzybowski also pointed out that the fur the laboratory identified on the Kitson merchandise is often harvested under cruel conditions: “Coyotes are neck-snared in the United States and Canada and have been reported to experience a phenomenon called ‘jellyhead’ whereby the snare causes fluid to build up in the head of the still-living coyote. Raccoon dogs are raised in small metal cages in large numbers in China where they have been documented to be skinned alive. Gray wolves are caught in steel-jawed leghold traps where they can suffer for days. Red foxes and arctic foxes are killed by anal electrocution on cage-confinement operations.”
City of West Hollywood to Ban All Fur
Although one of its 12 stores is located in West Hollywood, which come September 2013 will be the first city to ban sale of any fur, Kitson is staying out of any debates regarding faux versus real fur.
“Kitson is uninhibited, unapologetic and outspoken, as are many of our customers. We are also democratic, and realize we have customers who feel strongly both in favor of and against fur, and applaud those who take a stance for what they believe,” Heikka added.
The three items in question were removed from Kitson’s website today.