With winter sitting on our doorstep, most fashion retailers have been scrambling to stock up on warm hats, gloves and scarves and other cold weather staples. Whilst many of these items are adorned with a fur trim, most shoppers do not stop to question if it is real or not, with many assuming its fake due to low price, no labelling or label stating it is faux fur. Although the majority of the British public reject the idea of wearing real fur, investigations carried out by Humane Society International/UK and BBC's consumer show 'Fake Britain,' found a number of real fur items for sale at well-known high-street retailers and online retailers, which were either wrongly labelled as faux fur or contained no label at all.
British consumers duped by high-street retailers into purchasing real fur
The results of the investigations, which were conducted between November 20 and 23, reveal how inadequate and misleading labelling within the garment industry is. "Shockingly, in many cases British shoppers are being duped into mistakenly buying real animal fur cruelty," said Wendy Higgins, HSI Communications Director to FashionUnited. "We've found real animal fur items on sale at well known brands online, as well as in high-street independent shops, that are either mis-labelled as fake fur, or not labelled at all. This means that whilst many people think they are leaving fur cruelty on the shelf by choosing faux, in some cases they are in fact paying for animal suffering without realising it."
Established department store group House of Fraser and discount retailer TK Maxx were among the number of retailers found to be selling real fur garments as fake fur, which is surprising as the off-priced retailer is a corporate supporter of the HSI in the US. Both retailers acknowledged that these items were mis- advertised. HoF said it would never knowingly mislead its customers and has terminated its relationship with the brand which supplied the coat in question, whilst TK Maxx told HSI UK it "doesn’t knowingly purchase items that contain real fur" and regrets it's internal teams did not catch the error before hand.
YouGov poll reveals 85 per cent of Brits expect real animal fur to be clearly labelled
In order to inform consumers of the lack of clarity within labelling, HSI UK has launched a new campaign named 'Make It Fake.' The campaign aims to raise consumer awareness for ongoing prevalence of animal fur on items believed to be fake and calls for more robust labelling laws to ensure consumers are fully aware of what they are purchasing. "More than 100 million rabbits, foxes, raccoon dogs and other animals endure appalling lives and suffer terrible deaths just to make cheap trim for coats, hats and gloves that end up on the UK high-street," commented Claire Bass, executive director of HSI UK.
"Polls confirm that the vast majority of people want nothing to do with this sickening trade yet our research shows that real fur is being widely sold in markets and stores. One logical explanation is that unsuspecting consumers are being duped into buying real fur assuming that it’s fake." A poll conducted by YouGov revealed that 85 percent of the respondents expect the use of real animal fur to be clearly marked on labels when used in accessories and clothing. The poll also revealed that most consumer rely on the feel of the fur (50 percent) and a cheap price (47 percent) as the lead indicators in assessing whether the fur is real or fake. However, as the production of real animal fur tends to be cheaper than its faux counterpart both indicators can be misleading.
HSI UK calls on the UK government to introduce clear labelling
Although the UK government welcomed new EU textile labelling regulations this March and acknowledged the need to safeguard consumers choice and confidence in concern to products containing animal parts, HSI UK believes there is still much work to do as the current legislation is both confusing and poorly enforced. HSI UK is therefore urging the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to take action and improve the legislation. "It is unacceptable that inadequate labelling could be leading British consumers to buy real fur believing it to be fake," added Bass. "So we’re calling on the government to introduce clear labelling of all animal fur items including the animal species and country of origin, as is already the case in the United States. Only then will consumers have the information they need to make informed, ethical shopping choices."
Image Credit: HSI and Bont voor de Dieren (Alliance of HSI)