UPDATE: Late yesterday, Kohl’s released a statement apologizing for selling the parka. “Kohl’s standard vendor terms require that all merchandise must be free of any real animal fur unless expressly authorized in writing by Kohl’s,” the company said. “No such authorization was given here. Once aware that the product was made with real fur, Kohl’s immediately removed the product from our website.” The stores will accept returns of the parkas “no questions asked,” but the statement didn’t mention if the purchase price would be fully refunded.
Twice within a year, the Kohl’s department store chain has been caught selling items with “faux” fur trimming that is actually made from raccoon dogs.
In 2013, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) busted Kohl’s for selling handbags whose trim was not “faux rabbit fur,” as the store advertised, but real raccoon dog fur.
“When our supporters called the company to urge a fur-free policy, Kohl’s chose instead to play games by changing its customer relations phone number and taking down its customer service web page, making it nearly impossible for people to voice their opinion,” wrote HSUS President Wayne Pacelle on his blog today.
In June of this year, the HSUS tested a men’s parka sold by Kohl’s. The “faux” fur on the collar turned out to be from raccoon dogs.
By selling real fur as “faux,” Kohl’s is breaking two federal laws. In online advertisements for fur products, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Fur Products Labeling Act requires retailers to provide the type of animal killed and the country in which it was killed. Another law, the FTC Act, prohibits “unfair or deceptive acts or practices” in commerce.
Kohl’s has not commented on this most recent discovery, but it is no longer selling the parka.
Unfortunately, Kohl’s is not the only retailer guilty of selling real fur as fake — and the FTC isn’t helping matters any.
“Last year, the FTC, the U.S. government agency charged with protecting consumers from deception, decided it would continue to use a bogus fur trade name — Asiatic raccoon — for raccoon dogs, a step that exacerbated consumer confusion and deception in the marketplace,” Pacelle wrote.
To make these fur products, millions of raccoon dogs, a member of the dog family, are raised in inhumane conditions in China and then skinned alive. It costs less to sell their pelts than to manufacture fake fur.
If you want to make sure a “faux” fur item is really fake, the HSUS recommends you do the following:
- Check the base of the fur for skin or fabric. If you see threadwork from which the hairs emerge, it’s probably fake.
- Check the tips of the fur for tapering. Fake fur generally doesn’t come to a a fine point, as the real deal does.
- If you already own the item, remove a few of the hairs and burn them. Real fur smells like human hair when it’s burned.
Here’s a list of retailers, designers and brands that don’t use real fur. To urge Kohl’s to adopt a fur-free policy, call the company at 855-564-5705 and sign this HSUS online petition.
Photo via The Humane Society of the United States