A five-month undercover investigation by the Humane Society of the United States found that clothing sold as “fake fur” at Century 21 has been revealed to contain real animal fur.
The investigation also found that several garments trimmed with “faux fur” were actually made with the pelts of Chinese raccoon dog – a species related to the domestic dog – that is often skinned alive for its soft coat.
Among the mislabeled items were three Marc by Marc Jacobs coats, which were ordered from the discount retail chain’s website, DNAinfo reported.
The labels on the three Marc Jacobs jackets revealed that they were trimmed with “real raccoon fur” from China, and laboratory testing later found that it was actually raccoon dog.
Other offending garments, purchased from the Downtown and Upper West Side stores, included an infant’s hooded jacket by Trust fund Baby, a JNBY hoodie and a Save the Queen stole, all of which contained rabbit (or possibly hare).
A full breakdown of The Humane Society’s findings has been published on its website.
The investigation results were supported by hidden camera footage from the new Upper West Side branch of Century 21, recorded by New York State Assembly member Linda Rosenthal, who led the investigation with the Humane Society.
The team asked a number of sales staff if they knew whether an item featured real or fake fur. In several cases, the staffer checked the garment label to confirm an answer that the item was made with synthetic fur.
Other in-store staff just said that they didn’t know.
Linda Rosenthal later said in a statement: “Many people want to avoid wearing fur at all. And, for them, knowing whether the garment they are about to purchase is made with real or faux fur is just as important a factor in determining whether to buy it as is the price.”
Indeed, it was she who introduced a fur labeling law that the state passed in 2007. Manufacturers are also legally required to disclose the kind of fur used and the country of origin.
Linda Rosenthal said that the investigation team discovered other items in violation of the labeling laws at Century 21 as well, such as an unlabeled infant sweater made with rabbit fur.
“Anybody who doesn’t want to buy animal fur should be very angry that a product that they’re trying to avoid is being misrepresented as a product they may want to buy,” Pierre Grzybowski of the Humane Society’s Fur Free Campaign, told the New York Daily News.
Century 21 has since issued a statement on its Facebook page, defending itself against the allegations.
The statement read: “Century 21 does not create garment labels, the manufacturers do. It is the manufacturer’s responsibility to provide an accurate account of materials used in the garment and to be transparent with the consumer before his or her purchase.
“We respect the diligence of The Humane Society of the United States to uphold state and federal laws in regards to garment labeling.”
Many shoppers were horrified to hear that some of the “faux fur” garments were in fact made from raccoon dogs.
Today, the Humane Society’s investigation was praised by the World Society for the Protection of Animals.
Marc Jacobs, an animal-lover and former vegan, has previously come under fire from PETA from his work with real fur designs.
Other fashion companies have recently been vociferously attacked by animal rights groups.
Bebe incurred the wrath of PETA recently for falsely marketing itself as fur free.
PETA accused the fast fashion chain of “telling consumers that Bebe is a fur-free company, when, in fact, Bebe continues to sell products made with animal fur”.