UK clothes retailers have been ordered to take immediate action to ensure they are not advertising real fur as “faux” in a crackdown on misleading advertising.
The Committees of Advertising Practice (Cap) has issued an enforcement notice relevant to all advertisers in the UK, requiring them to take action to ensure they are not using misleading faux fur claims.
Companies found to be advertising real fur as fake or faux fur after February 11 will face sanctions by the regulator, which could include a referral to Trading Standards.
Cap warned companies fulfilling customer orders on retail sites 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.
It has advised companies against assuming that low cost is a good indicator that a product does not contain animal fur, noting that current market conditions meant that animal fur was not necessarily more expensive than faux fur.
It said it now expects companies to test faux fur products themselves before putting them on sale, preferably via a laboratory but if necessary by checking the base of fur labelled as fake for a mesh or threaded fabric or by burning a sample to check for a smell of singed real hair or burnt plastic.
Just last week the ASA criticised two retailers for “misleading” consumers by advertising fashion items made from real animal fur as fake or faux.
In two separate rulings published last Wednesday, the regulator said a product listing for a pompom jumper by online fashion retailer Boohoo and another for a pompom headband sold on Amazon by Zacharia Jewellers – both advertised as faux fur – had broken rules.
The items were spotted by animal welfare charity Humane Society International in September as part of its ongoing investigation into the national problem of real fur being sold as faux across the UK.
ASA chief executive Guy Parker said: “Consumers shouldn’t be misled into buying a faux fur product in good conscience only for it to turn out to be made from a real animal.
“That’s not just misleading, it can also be deeply upsetting.”
Cap director Shahriar Coupal said: “Misleading advertising is always unfair to consumers and to businesses that compete fairly for people’s custom.
“Our enforcement notice gives responsible businesses the tools to ensure that ads for ‘faux fur’ products don’t mislead and are marketed responsibly.
“For companies that continue to mislead, we won’t hesitate to apply sanctions, including referral to our Trading Standards backstop.”
Humane Society International UK executive director Claire Bass said: “HSI UK’s investigations have shown time and time again a shocking amount of fake faux fur for sale in Britain, so we are delighted that the ASA is upholding our complaint and calling on retailers to take full responsibility to get their house in order.
“Fur is a product of animal suffering that most British consumers want nothing to do with, and 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.”