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December 30, 2010

Falsely Advertised, Mislabeled Raccoon Dog Fur Sold by Neiman Marcus

WASHINGTON — The Humane Society of the United States revealed through laboratory testing that an exclusive, $1,895 St. John brand jacket advertised by Neiman Marcus in VOGUE and W magazines is not dyed “raccoon” fur, as described at NeimanMarcus.com and on the garment’s tag, but actually raccoon dog, a member of the Canid family documented to be often skinned alive in China.

“Independent investigations into the Chinese raccoon dog fur industry have revealed horrendous cruelty, including animals being skinned alive,” said Pierre Grzybowski, manager of the Fur-Free Campaign at The HSUS. 

Under the nearly 60-year-old federal Fur Products Labeling Act, it is unlawful to describe the fur on a garment as being from a different type of animal. Violations of the federal fur labeling law carry up to a $5,000 fine and a year in prison. On Dec. 18, President Obama signed H.R. 2480, The Truth in Fur Labeling Act, that strengthens the FPLA by requiring all garments made with animal fur—regardless of value—to be labeled and advertised with the correct species of animal.

The September issues of Vogue and W magazine contain identical eight-page ad-spreads from Neiman Marcus entitled “The Art of Fashion.” A full page of the spread is devoted to a model wearing the same style of fur-trimmed St. John jacket bought by HSUS investigators from NeimanMarcus.com, and the last page of the spread gives the Neiman Marcus website and phone number.

The Humane Society of the United States calls on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the matter, and calls on Neiman Marcus to take immediate action, including contacting and offering to refund all customers who purchased this garment, and inspecting and testing any other garments that are purported to be “raccoon” fur from China. 

Images of the online ad, garment tags, and magazine ads are available here.

Timeline:

September 2010 – HSUS investigators purchased the St. John brand jacket from NeimanMarcus.com, where it is advertised as “dyed, patched raccoon (China)” and depicts the exact image used in the Vogue and W ad spreads. The hangtag on the garment indicates “100% Dyed Raccoon” and “Fur Origin: China.”

March 2010 – D.C. Superior Court entered a final judgment in a lawsuit brought against Neiman Marcus by HSUS declaring that defendant Neiman Marcus violated the D.C. Consumer Protection Act, enjoining the retailer from falsely advertising the garments named in the lawsuit, and requiring Neiman to pay damages and costs associated with the case.

November 2009 – The HSUS discovered Neiman Marcus selling as “faux fur” a $1,300 Burberry jacket trimmed with real animal fur.

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.

August 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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