Feb. 9, 2007 -- From the runway to the racks of mass retailers, fake fur is all the rage.
But a recent investigation by the Humane Society found that what's labeled and advertised as faux fur isn't always fake. In testing a sampling of coats, they found that 24 out of 25 samples were mislabeled -- most contained the fur of a raccoon dog, a dog that looks like a raccoon.
Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, found the news that fur advertised as fake can actually come from dogs outrageous.
"The images that we have seen in China are truly chilling -- animals literally skinned alive for a product where we have an alternative this day in age," he said.
The Humane Society collected the coats they tested from a variety of major retailers, including Lord and Taylor, Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy's, Burlington Coat Factory and JC Penny. They discovered that celebrity clothing lines were also at fault -- real fur was found in clothing from Jay-Z's RocaWear line, P Diddy's Sean John label and Beyonce Knowles' House of Deron brand.
"I think what we have found is that the industry at the design level and retail level just isn't paying attention, they are asleep at the wheel," Pacelle said.
Designers, Retailers Respond
When the designers of Jay-Z's and P Diddy's lines learned about the charges, they offered to pull the offending goods from the racks. Knowles' mother issued a statement endorsing truth in labeling, saying "we don't want to have to guess about what types of products we are using and consumers shouldn't have to guess either."
Some of the major manufacturers, including Burlington Coat Factory and Macy's, said they support legislation to require even fur trim to be labeled. They also say they've pulled the coats from the racks, and claim they were deceived by the factories where the coats were actually produced.
Despite laws that ban the import of dog and cat fur, fur trims have slipped through a major legal loophole. One congressman is hoping to close it.
"Personally it turns my stomach," said Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va. "There's got to be a limit to making profit particularly when that profit is gained with in such a cruel and inhuman manner."