Retailers have been ordered to take immediate action to ensure products containing real fur are not advertised as faux fur.
The news comes after brands including Boohoo, House of Fraser, Missguided, TK Maxx, Amazon and Ebay were found to be advertising products as faux fur, when items were actually made using fur from animals including rabbits, foxes and raccoons.
The new ruling, by the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP), part of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), says if the regulators continue to see problems in this area after 11 February 2019, they will sanction the companies involved.
Companies have been told to take a stricter approach to checking the supply chain and the accuracy of claims relating to faux fur before putting the products on sale.
The Enforcement Notice provides guidance for retailers on how to tell the difference between animal fur and faux fur and how to prevent misleading claims (with some tips that are also helpful for consumers).
How To Tell The Difference
1. Don’t assume that the low cost of the product from a supplier is a good indicator that the product does not contain animal fur. Current market conditions means that animal fur is not necessarily more expensive than faux fur.
2. Test the faux fur products yourself before putting them on sale – if they are repeat orders, make sure to test a sample from each batch.
3. Laboratory testing is the best method to differentiate between real and faux fur but if this is not feasible, there’s a three-step approach that may help:
:: Check the base of the fur – the base of faux fur will have a mesh or threaded fabric from where the “hairs” emerge; animal fur will have a base of leather or skin.
:: Check the tips of the hair – if it tapers as opposed to being blunt, it’s likely to be real fur, although sometimes animal fur has been sheared or cut to a uniform length.
:: The burn test – cut off some of the fur and burn it safely. Real fur singes and smells like burnt human hair while faux fur melts and smells like burnt plastic.
4. Don’t use suppliers that make repeated mistakes in supplying real fur instead of the claimed ‘faux fur’ products.
CAP said that it’s aware it is more difficult for online marketplaces, such as Ebay, to examine all the products sold on the platform. While primary responsibility lies with the sellers themselves, platforms also have a responsibility to ensure products sold on their platforms do not misleadingly present real fur as faux fur. It said platforms should work with marketplace sellers to educate them on how to tell real fur from faux fur.
The ruling has been praised by Humane Society International UK, which has completed multiple investigations on the mislabelling of faux fur.
“Fur is a product of animal suffering that most British consumers want nothing to do with,” executive director Claire Bass said. “They have the right to be confident that when they buy faux fur they are not being duped into buying the exact animal cruelty they are trying to avoid.”