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November 10, 2009

Neiman Marcus Once Again Sold Animal Fur as 'Faux Fur'

The Humane Society of the United States

WASHINGTON — The Humane Society of the United States has once again discovered that Neiman Marcus advertised and sold animal fur online as "faux" — this time it was a $1,300 Burberry women's jacket.

More than 50 years after passage of the Fur Products Labeling Act, and despite being named over the last several years in a legal petition, a lawsuit, and numerous investigations for the sale of falsely advertised or falsely labeled animal fur garments, Neiman Marcus was advertising a $1,300 Burberry jacket online as "faux-fur" three weeks ago. Upon purchases and inspection, The HSUS discovered the fur was actually real, and labeled "finnraccoon" — a name used by the fashion industry to market fur from a canine species commonly known as the raccoon dog.

"Neiman Marcus has repeatedly sold garments where the animal fur was misrepresented or even described as fake fur," said Pierre Grzybowski, manager of the fur campaign for The HSUS. "How many of this latest jacket were sold to unsuspecting consumers who thought they were buying fake fur?"

The misrepresentation of the fur as "faux" was removed from the Web site after HSUS investigators brought the issue to the attention of Burberry.

In August, The HSUS announced that Neiman Marcus, and sister store Bergdorf Goodman, were selling $1,500 fur-trimmed Manolo Blahnik boots that were advertised as "natural ocelot fur" — an endangered species that would be illegal to sell under the Endangered Species Act. After The HSUS brought this issue to the public's attention, a Neiman Marcus spokesperson admitted it was goat fur.

The HSUS is pursuing a consumer protection lawsuit against Neiman Marcus and other retailers in the District of Columbia, and is also urging Congress to pass the Truth in Fur Labeling Act, S. 1076, by Sens. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, and H.R. 2480 by Reps. Jim Moran, D-Va., and Mary Bono Mack, R-Calif., to require accurate labeling of all animal fur-trimmed garments, regardless of dollar value.

Images of the garments and the misrepresentation online as "faux" are available upon request.

Facts:

  • The Neiman Marcus Group, Inc. owns both Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman.
  • 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. The use of trade names on labels to describe the animals is prohibited.   


Timeline:

  • August 2009 – The HSUS discovered Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman were selling fur-trimmed boots described as "natural ocelot fur."
  • January 2009 – Bergdorf Goodman was among those found selling unlabeled fur-trimmed jackets in violation of New York state law.
  • November 2008 – Neiman Marcus was among those named in an HSUS lawsuit for engaging in false advertising and mislabeling of fur garments.
  • March 2007 – Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman were among those named in an HSUS petition with the Federal Trade Commission seeking to enforce the Fur Products Labeling Act.
  • 1951 – Congress passed the federal Fur Products Labeling Act to protect consumers from falsely advertised and falsely labeled fur.

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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. 

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