Fashion retailer Boohoo has been criticised by the UK’s advertising watchdog for labelling real animal fur as faux fur.
Online retailer Zacharia Jewellers was also rapped by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), which said both brands had breached advertising rules by suggesting that some products were made with fake fur and therefore did not harming animals.
When those products were bought and tested independently, it was discovered they were most likely made from rabbit fur.
A Boohoo pom pom jumper and a pom pom headband sold on Amazon by Zacharia Jewellers, were both purchased by animal charity Humane Society International after they were advertised as faux fur in September. The items were sent to an independent textile analysis laboratory for testing, where both were confirmed to have been made of real fur – most likely rabbit.
The ASA investigated the matter and ruled that the retailers had breached the code with ‘misleading’ advertising. Both retailers must now remove the items from sale and must not state other items are “faux fur” if they aren’t.
“It’s completely unacceptable that compassionate consumers setting out to buy fake fur are being misled into buying animal fur,” says Claire Bass, executive director of Humane Society International.
Bass says these two examples are the latest in a “long list” of fake faux items being sold on the high street and online that in fact contain real fur. A BBC watchdog investigation last year revealed it was happening at TK Maxx, AX Paris, eBay and Missy Empire.
The ASA says retailers need to have robust checks in place along the whole supply chain so that customers know they’re getting what they’ve been promised.
Real fur items are often cheaper to produce than fake fur equivalents, because conditions on fur farms are so low.
“The vast majority of British shoppers want nothing to do with the cruel and unnecessary fur trade, and a ban on UK fur sales would be a positive step to protect both consumers and animals,” says Bass.
Miles Lockwood, ASA’s director of complaints and investigation, says consumers should be able to trust the ads they see and hear, as it can not only be misleading but also deeply upsetting. “Our rulings serve as an important notice to retailers and the clothing and textile industry about the need for truthfulness in their ad claims around faux fur products, and to get their house in order or face further action,” he says.
More than 135 million animals globally are reported to be killed every year for their fur, causing an increasing number of fashion designers to drop real fur from their ranges including Gucci, Versace, Michael Kors, Jimmy Choo, DKNY and Burberry.
Boohoo and Zacharia Jewellers respond:
A spokesperson from Zacharia Jewellers told HuffPost UK: “We would not ever intentionally sell real fur. We are vegetarians, who do not believe in selling such products. These were sold to us as faux fur, when we purchased them. The product was removed, as soon as we were made aware of this.”
A Boohoo spokesperson told HuffPost UK: “At boohoo we have a strong commitment against the sale of real fur in any of our products. We have robust policies and procedures in place to ensure that we are able to adhere to this commitment. Boohoo has a team of in-house Quality Assurance experts who are responsible for testing and checking of products to ensure instances such as this don’t occur. The product in question was checked for real fur using our own ‘approved’ tests and procedures by our in-house Quality Assurance team. The results of the testing showed that real fur was not present in the product. Following the enquiry made by the Humane Society the item has been removed from sale. We uphold our commitment against the sale of real fur in any of our products and continue to investigate the matter internally and with the supplier in question, and we do so as a matter of priority.”