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boohoo rapped by ASA for selling real fur as faux

Lauretta Roberts
09 January 2019

The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has released two rulings this morning condemning retailers, including online fast-fashion giant boohoo, for selling real fur as fake.

Animal charity Humane Society International (HSI) UK had brought to the ASA’s attention a pom pom jumper sold by boohoo and a pom pom headband sold on Amazon by Zacharia Jewellers, both advertised as faux.

The suspicious items were found by the charity in September as part of its on-going investigation into real fur being passed off as faux by retailers; both items were sent to an independent lab for testing, where they were found to contain real fur, most likely rabbit.

After being presented with the evidence, the ASA ruled that the retailers had breached the CAP (Committees of Advertising Practice) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising) and 3.7 (Substantiation). The ASA’s ruling has meant that both items in question have been taken down from the retailers’ websites and the retailers told they must not state an item is “faux fur” if that is not the case.


The boohoo jumper labelled as faux fur

HSI UK executive director Claire Bass said the it was "completely unacceptable" that consumers were led to believe they were buying faux fur, which turned out to be real and said the problem was widespread.

"These two examples are the latest in a long list of ‘fake faux fur’ items we’ve found for sale, so we hope that the ASA’s rulings will send a strong message to the industry and make retailers work harder to give consumers confidence in avoiding cruel animal fur.

"Because of the appalling conditions on fur farms, real fur can now be cheaper to produce than fake fur, so retailers need to have robust checks in place along their whole supply chains"

Claire Bass, Humane Society International UK

"Because of the appalling conditions on fur farms, real fur can now be cheaper to produce than fake fur, so retailers need to have robust checks in place along their whole supply chains, to make sure they know exactly what they are selling and keep their pledges to their customers. The vast majority of British shoppers want nothing to do with the cruel and unnecessary fur trade, and a ban on UK fur sales would be a positive step to protect both consumers and animals," Bass added.

Advertising Standards Authority Director of Complaints and Investigations, Miles Lockwood said: “Consumers should be able to trust the ads they see and hear and they certainly shouldn’t be misled into buying a faux fur product in good conscience only for it to turn out to be from a real animal.

"That’s not just misleading it can also be deeply upsetting. Our rulings serve as an important notice to retailers and the clothing and textile industry about the need for truthfulness in their ad claims around faux fur products, and to get their house in order or face further action," Lockwood added.


The Zacharia head band

Consumers being duped into buying real fur labelled as faux, and HSI’s investigations into the issue, were covered on BBC’s Watchdog last month. The broadcaster found real fur items being sold as fake in TK Maxx, Amazon, AX Paris, eBay and Missy Empire.

In 2018 Parliament’s Environmental Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee also scrutinised the issue of real fur being sold as faux. The Committee's report, released last summer, calls on the government to introduce a new mandatory fur and animal product labelling regime and to hold a public consultation to consider whether to ban the import and sale of animal fur in the UK, post-Brexit.

Fur farming has been banned in the UK since 2000 and some types of fur such as domestic dog and cat and seal fur are also banned. However there has been a rising movement to outlaw the sale of all fur, a movement which is being led by HSI. Last year MPs debated the idea of a full real fur ban and the idea was met with support from MPs from all political parties, however the government has yet to take any action.

Many high end designers have been phasing out real fur from their collections including Gucci, Burberry, Michael Kors, Diane von Furstenberg, Versace, Chanel, Jean-Paul Gaultier and John Galliano. Last September's London Fashion Week was the first during which no on-schedule designer had shown real fur.

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