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March 7, 2013

N.Y. Retailer Sold Marc Jacobs, Other Fur Garments as Faux

Investigation finds mislabeled, unlabeled animal fur

The Humane Society of the United States and New York State Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal, D-Manhattan, author of New York State’s 2007 fur labeling law, found that popular New York department store, Century 21, sold multiple animal fur garments in violation of state and federal fur labeling laws. The undercover investigation documented [PDF] that the chain advertised raccoon dog fur as "faux fur" on a Marc Jacobs jacket and sold an unlabeled infant sweater that contained rabbit fur.

Urge Century 21 to stop selling animal fur »

Pierre Grzybowski, research and enforcement manager of the fur-free campaign for The HSUS said, "The Humane Society of the United States is releasing these findings during National Consumer Protection Week to warn consumers that animal fur, including from raccoon dogs who may be skinned alive in China, is being sold unlabeled or as faux fur. Consumers can protect themselves and animals by learning how to tell real fur from fake fur [PDF], and urging retailers like Century 21 to go fur-free."

In September 2012, HSUS investigators purchased three Marc by Marc Jacobs jackets online from Century 21, where they were advertised as having “faux fur” trim. Upon delivery all three jacket labels indicated “real raccoon fur” from China and laboratory testing of one jacket indicated it was actually raccoon dog.  

It's the law

Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal said: “In 2007, I passed legislation to require all apparel with real or fake fur to be labeled as real or fake, so that shoppers could have easy access to this important product information. My constituents and the people of this state thought that this law was a necessary complement to existing, but rarely enforced, federal regulations requiring that fur garments contain a description of the kind of fur used and the country of origin. Many people want to avoid wearing fur at all, and for them, knowing whether the garment they are about to purchase is made with real or faux fur is just as important a factor in determining whether to buy it as is the price.”

In January 2013, HSUS investigators, accompanied by Assemblymember Rosenthal, purchased five different animal fur-trimmed jackets inside two Century 21 stores in New York City. Two of the jackets, one unlabeled and one "JNBY" brand jacket with "faux fur" on the hangtag, were purchased in the Lincoln Square location, which is within Rosenthal's legislative district; the other three were purchased at a separate Century 21 location. In 2011, prior to the grand opening of the Century 21 location, Assemblymember Rosenthal wrote the retailer to notify it of its duties under the law she passed, and to request that it comply or go fur-free altogether.

Read the full report, which includes pictures of the garments »

Undercover footage shows Century 21 salespeople unable to find any fur labeling on garments, and in some cases indicating that they thought the unlabeled fur was fake, when in fact it was animal fur. Under the federal Fur Products Labeling Act, all garments trimmed with animal fur must give the name of the animal and the country in which the animal was killed. It is a violation of federal law to misidentify the species of animal fur used in wearing apparel.

Timeline

  • Aug. 15, 2007: Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal's legislation to require fur labeling is signed into law.
  • November 2007: New York fur labeling law goes into effect. New York State’s fur labeling law requires garments sold in New York to state “Real Fur” or “Faux Fur” on the label, hangtag or sticker if they contain either such material.
  • January 2009: an investigation by The HSUS and Assemblymember Rosenthal  found that Bloomingdale's was selling unlabeled "Parajumpers" and "Steve by Searle" brand jackets trimmed with animal fur, and that Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue were both selling "Moncler" brand jackets trimmed with unlabeled animal fur.
  • December 2010: The Truth in Fur Labeling Act, signed by President Obama, an amendment to the Fur Products Labeling Act, closed a loophole in the six-decade-old federal fur labeling law that previously allowed many fur-trimmed garments to go unlabeled if the value of the animal fur material was $150 or less. This loophole left consumers in the dark as to whether they were buying faux or real animal fur.
  • March 18, 2012: This date marked the end of the Federal Trade Commission’s one-year enforcement grace period for any previously exempt garments that were already in retail stores. For the past year, all fur-trimmed garments sold in the U.S. must be properly labeled with the species of animal and country of origin, regardless of the dollar value of the fur material.

Media contact: Kaitlin Sanderson: 301-721-6463; ksanderson@humanesociety.org

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