A trio of retailers violated the Federal Trade Commission Act and the Fur Products Labeling Act when they misled consumers by advertising clothing items as faux fur when they in fact contained real fur.
The Neiman Marcus Group Inc., DrJays.com Inc., and Eminent Inc. reached a proposed consent order with the FTC in which they agreed to a 20-year ban on violations of the Fur Act and accompanying rules and regulations.
According to the Commission, Neiman Marcus not only misrepresented fur content on its Web site, but it also failed to disclose the animal name and country of origin for a Burberry Outerwear Jacket and an Alice + Olivia Kyah Coat. The third product, a $325 Stuart Weitzman Ballerina Flat, was described as having a “Faux fur (cotton/viscose) pom on round toe” online and sold as a “dyed mink pouf” in a catalog and a direct mail piece. The shoe in fact contained rabbit fur.
DrJays.com made similar misrepresentations for three products on its site – a Snorkel Jacket by Crown Holder with a fur-lined hood, a Knoles & Carter vest with exterior fur, and a fur-lined New York Subway Leather Bomber Jacket by United Face, according to the complaint.
And outerwear including a Marc Jacobs Runway Roebling Coat and a Dakota Xan Fur Poncho were among the four products that Eminent Inc. failed to correctly label, the agency said.
The Truth in Fur Labeling Act was passed by Congress in 2010 and amended the Fur Act to require disclosure of any fur content in wearing apparel for all products. Previously, the Act exempted items valued at less than $150.
The proposed consent orders incorporate the Enforcement Policy Statement Regarding Certain Imported Textile, Wool, and Fur Products announced by the FTC in January, which established a safe harbor for retailers. Under the safe harbor, retailers can avoid liability for misrepresentations about fur products by meeting three requirements: if they do not embellish or misrepresent claims provided by the products’ manufacturers; they do not sell the product under a private label; and they neither know nor should have known if the product is marketed in a manner that violates the Fur Act.
To read the complaints against the retailers, click here.
Why it matters: Retailers of fur products should take note of the proposed settlement and attempt to remain within the protective confines of the safe harbor of the FTC’s Enforcement Policy Statement. To do so, retailers should not embellish or misrepresent claims provided by a manufacturer or make their own claims, nor should they sell the product as their own. And retailers who knew or should have known that the marketing or sale of a good that violates the Fur Act will not be covered by the safe harbor.