August 19, 2009
Neiman Marcus Advertising Manolo Blahnik Boots as Ocelot Fur — an Endangered Species
WASHINGTON — The Humane Society of the United States has once again asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Neiman Marcus and sister store Bergdorf Goodman. This time, The HSUS found both stores selling $1,500 fur-trimmed Manolo Blahnik boots that are advertised both as "cava fur" — a species that does not appear to exist — and "natural ocelot fur" — an endangered species that would be illegal to sell under the Endangered Species Act.
"Neiman Marcus is apparently once again misrepresenting the type of fur it is selling — in this case as 'cava' and 'ocelot' fur," said Pierre Grzybowski, manager of The HSUS' fur-free campaign. "This is likely just another in the ever-growing list of misrepresentations of animal fur by Neiman Marcus. This deserves a thorough investigation, and if Neiman Marcus is found to have violated the Fur Products Labeling Act, it needs to be held accountable for deceiving the public," he added.
HSUS has repeatedly sought enforcement of fur advertising and labeling laws over the past several years, including a petition before the Federal Trade Commission naming Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman among others for violation of the federal Fur Products Labeling Act, and filing a lawsuit in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia naming Neiman Marcus and others for false advertising and labeling of fur.
Accessing a number of authoritative and lay sources, HSUS staff has been unable to identify any animal that is commonly referred to as "cava." The common English name is required under the federal Fur Products Labeling Act when describing animal fur in advertising and labeling.
The ocelot (Leopardus pardalis), which is found in Arizona and Texas as well as countries in Central and South America, has been listed as endangered for more than 35 years. Illegal trade in pelts is one of the primary threats to the species. False advertising or labeling of fur is punishable under the Fur Products Labeling Act by up to one year in prison and/or a $5,000 fine. Selling fur from endangered species is punishable under the Endangered Species Act by up to one year in prison and/or a $50,000 fine.
The Neiman Marcus Group, Inc. owns both Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman.
The boots are for sale on the Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman Web sites.
Although the boots in question require accurate labeling under current federal law, some less expensive apparel — items trimmed with $150 or less worth of fur — don't require any labels at all. The HSUS urges Congress to pass the Truth in Fur Labeling Act, S. 1076 by Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and H.R. 2480 by Reps. Jim Moran, D-Va., and Mary Bono Mack, R-Calif., to require accurate labeling of all fur-trimmed garments, regardless of dollar value.
- January 2009 – Bergdorf Goodman among those found selling unlabeled fur-trimmed jackets in violation of New York State Law.
- November 2008 – Neiman Marcus among those named in HSUS lawsuit for engaging in false advertising and mislabeling of fur garments
- March 2007 – Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman among those named in HSUS petition with FTC seeking to enforce the Fur Products Labeling Act.
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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the Web at humanesociety.org.