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Faux or fur?

Many retailers in the UK are facing a backlash after being found to be stocking products made from real, animal fur. For a while, fur has been a topic of contention for UK consumers who generally see it as surplus to requirement and not a necessary component of 21st century fashion. Therefore, the news that many high street retailers are selling animal fur labelled as faux fur has not been well received.

The investigation by Sky News and Humane Society International UK found that major British retailers, including TK Maxx, Boohoo, Amazon and Not on the High Street have all been found to be selling clothing and footwear items that contained animal fur, despite being labelled as fake.

Claire Bass, Executive Director of Humane Society International UK, stated: “The amount of fake fur online is truly shocking, with even trusted retailers mis-selling real animal fur as synthetic. It is appalling that British shoppers, who are actively choosing not to buy real fur because of the terrible animal suffering, are being misled into buying the very same fur products they’re trying to avoid.

“The combination of trusted brands, cheap prices and items described as ‘faux’ or ‘100% acrylic’, means many people will be justifiably horrified to discover they’ve inadvertently bought animal fur. Consumers rightly expect brands to sell what they say they’re selling, so urgent action is needed to stop this insidious creep of fur through the back door.”

Among the incorrectly labelled items, the investigation reports on a fox fur coat in TK Maxx, rabbit fur shoes and mink fur earrings on Boohoo and rabbit fur shoes for children on Amazon.

A Boohoo statement said: “We are very disappointed that on this occasion our high standards have been breached by suppliers from who these items have been sourced. The items in question were immediately removed from sale and the breach of the policy and its standards are being investigated as a matter of urgency.

“At Boohoo we believe it’s never right to cause harm or pain to animals during the making or testing of our products, which is why we take our Animal Welfare Policy seriously. We also believe we can give our customers the look of materials like fur, leather and suede by using the available faux alternatives. We stand by our commitment to never use real fur in any Boohoo product.”

According to HSI, EU regulations require items that are defined as ‘textile products’ to contain the wording “contains non-textile parts of animal origin” however this is rarely adhered to. The requirement does not apply to online products or footwear and accessories like handbags.

Whilst fur was once a frequently used material in the fashion industry, many of the major fashion brands are now shunning its use. Most recently Michael Kors pledged to go fur-free stating: “Due to technological advances in fabrications, we now have the ability to create a luxe aesthetic using non animal fur. We will showcase these new techniques in our upcoming runway show in February.”

Other big name fashion brands to say no to fur include Gucci, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger and Armani. However, there is still work to be done. The Business of Fashion report claims that “nearly 70 per cent of major designers included fur in their Autumn/Winter 2017 collections.”

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