Animal Welfare

That Faux Fur You Got at Neiman Marcus? It Might Actually be Mink or Rabbit.

The Federal Trade Commission, among its other duties, is charged with enforcing what is known as the Fur Products Labeling Act. That law, passed by Congress in 1951, requires that fur garments be accurately labeled with the species of animal and country of origin so customers don't get fooled by cheap, inferior knockoffs.

But Dallas' hometown luxury retailer, Neiman Marcus, has taken a different approach to bamboozling consumers, according to the FTC. The New York Times describes it well:

The Stuart Weitzman ballet flats from Neiman Marcus sported sweet faux fur pom-poms. The Alice and Olivia coat was trimmed with a dark faux fur collar.

The problem was that the faux fur was, in fact, real fur.

That's right: it was faux faux fur.

In a forehead-slapping development, Neiman Marcus and two other retailers, DrJays.com and Eminent, on Tuesday settled federal claims that they had marketed real fur as fake fur. The supposedly fake stuff was actually rabbit, raccoon and, possibly, dyed mink.

Neiman Marcus was dinged by the FTC for mislabeling three products, including the two mentioned above and a Burberry Outerwear Jacket, over the course of three years.

The lingering question is why. The Times points to a shift by consumers away from the real thing. Fake fur manufacturers simply haven't been able to meet growing demand. As a result, "there are fur farms in China that raise dogs for clothing that is labeled as fake fur here in the U.S. because that's what the market best responds to," Dan Mathews, a senior vice president with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, told the paper.

In other words, your faux fur coat may be made from puppies, which is certainly a comforting thought.

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Eric Nicholson
Contact: Eric Nicholson