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Humane Society Alleges That Retailers' Faux Fur May Not Be So Faux

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    A fur-trimmed jacket on the Marc by Marc Jacobs Fall 2011 runway.

    As fur becomes an increasingly contentious issue in the fashion industry -- West Hollywood, for example, recently banned fur sales -- clothing companies and retailers alike have been upping the number of "faux fur" garments on offer to give shoppers the look without the real thing.

    Unfortunately, some of that furry trim, it turns out, isn't quite so faux: The Wall Street Journal reports that The Humane Society of the United States has filed a legal petition against 11 retailers alleging that they mislabeled garments as having "faux fur" elements, when in fact they contained real animal fur.

    In the legal petition, the Human Society calls out retailers including Barneys, Neiman Marcus, Gilt Groupe, Yoox, Shopbop, and Revolve Clothing (among others) for mislabeling everything from shoes to jackets -- offenses that the group claims should be subject to penalties including up to $5,000 per violation.

    In some cases, the petition alleges that a designer or brand had even correctly marked an item as containing fur -- as in the case of a Woolrich jacket containing "natural coyote fur" -- but then the retailer (in this case, Barneys) failed to include that in the item's description, referring instead to a "faux fur hood."

    The petition includes other examples like Gilt Groupe's classifying a Paul and Joe Homme jacket as having a "faux fur hood" and Yoox saying a Mark and James by Badgley Mischka cardigan was made with "faux fur," when, after being subjected to tests, the Human Society found the garments to contain real fur.

    In better news, the petition appears to be highlighting individual examples from a slew of retailers -- not suggesting that some stores are mislabeling fur products with alarming consistency. Nevertheless, it's a good reminder for those who are anti-fur to be diligent in reading labels and doing their homework before making a purchase.