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ASA warns retailers of legal action over faux fur claims

By Danielle Wightman-Stone


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The Compliance function of the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP), which is part of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) regulatory system, has issued an enforcement notice to clothing retailers to take immediate action to ensure that any items advertised as containing fake fur are not made from real fur.

UK retailers, including sellers on UK-facing online platforms and marketplaces, must ensure their advertising is line with the enforcement notice by February 11, after which the Compliance team will take “targeted enforcement action” including legal action if advertisers are “unwilling to comply”.

This action follows the ruling earlier this month by the ASA that found online fashion retailer Boohoo had sold a faux fur pom pom jumper that was found to contain real fur, most likely rabbit, which it stated was “misleading” to consumers. In addition, Zacharia Jewellers were also found to have broken rules by selling a pompom headband on Amazon that was advertised as “faux fur”.

In both situations the retailers stated that they were unaware that their pieces contained real fur and were acquired from external UK suppliers.

These revelations followed numerous investigations by the Humane Society International last year that caught TK Maxx, Tesco, FatFace, Kurt Geiger, Romwe, Miss Bardo and Amazon UK selling real fur as faux.

Advertising Standards Authority issues enforcement notice to retails on “misleading” faux fur claims

The enforcement notice requires retailers to take a “stricter approach” in checking their supply chain and the “accuracy of claims relating to ‘faux fur’ before putting the products on sale”.

The ASA added that it didn’t think retailers and sellers were “deliberately misleading consumers” and that they understand problems usually arise from supply chain pollution or lack of education and enforcement, but it added that the “buck stops with the advertiser” and calls on fashion brands to help educate their suppliers and take action against them if they don’t follow the rules.

Chief executive of the Advertising Standards Authority, Guy Parker, said in a statement: “Consumers shouldn’t be misled into buying a faux fur product in good conscience only for it to turn out to be made from a real animal. That’s not just misleading, it can also be deeply upsetting.”

Claire Bass, executive director of Humane Society International UK added: "We welcome the ASA’s firm action to ban companies from falsely advertising real fur as faux. HSI UK’s investigations have shown time and time again a shocking amount of fake faux fur for sale in Britain, so we are delighted that the ASA is upholding our complaint and calling on retailers to take full responsibility to get their house in order.

“The ASA’s rulings make it clear that it is companies’ responsibility, whether high-street store or online marketplace, to ensure that their customers are not being misled. Reducing the amount of real fur masquerading as fake fur on UK markets is important progress in our #FurFreeBritain campaign, until we reach our ultimate goal of a UK fur sales ban to properly protect both shoppers and animals from the cruel fur trade.”

Image: courtesy of ASA/Humane Society International

Advertising Standards Authority
Faux fur
Humane Society International