Ad regulator warns retailers of legal action over faux fur claims

Retailers have been told that advertising real fur as faux could result in legal sanctions by Trading Standards.

The Committees of Advertising Practice has issued 50 major retailers with an enforcement notice concerning misleading faux fur claims. 

It is being sent a week after online fashion and accessory retailers Boohoo and Zacharia were reprimanded for listings stating that a product was faux fur when it actually contained real fur.

The enforcement notice requires companies to immediately ensure their advertising complies with the Advertising Standards Authority ban on promoting products that contain real fur as "faux fur".

Responsibility for ensuring ads adhere to the rule will sit with advertisers and they will ultimately be held to account, CAP warns. 

From 11 February, advertisers that fail to stick to the rule will be sanctioned; this could include referral to Trading Standards for statutory action.

The CAP ruling, which comes into effect today, is applicable to all relevant advertisers in the UK across all media, including online and social media. CAP is part of the ASA's regulatory system.  

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."

The ad regulator, which doesn’t believe that British retailers such as Boohoo are deliberately misleading consumers, calls on fashion brands to help educate their suppliers, take action against them if they don’t follow the rules and adopt a stricter approach to checking the supply chain.

In an attempt to further help retailers when laboratory testing isn’t possible, the enforcement notice highlights how to tell the difference between animal fur and faux fur:

  1. 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. 
  2. 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.
  3. The burn test – cut off some of the fur and burn it safely. Real fur singes and smells like burned human hair, while faux fur melts and smells like burned plastic.

Shahriar Coupal, director of CAP, said: "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."

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