The Faux-Fur Pas

Laura Addie debates the ethics and implications of both faux and real fur, and the problem with false advertising.[br]HIGH street favourites Debenhams and Forever 21 have faced outcry from animal rights campaigners following their sale of real fur products that had been labelled as fake. The issue was highlighted in an investigation by ITV’s Good Morning Britain after a tip off from campaigners.One ITV reporter went undercover as a potential customer, questioning store workers about the authenticity of the fur. After assurance from staff that it was faux fur, the reporter sent the products away for expert testing. Worryingly, the items tested positive for real animal fur, which the expert believed to have been sourced from Angora rabbits and raccoon dogs.One product in particular, a £40 Debenhams black handbag included a pom-pom detail that was made entirely from rabbit fur. The investigation also uncovered independent store Westside in London selling a fur parka including dog fur.
“Consumers are often under the impression that the low price tag of the product rules out real animal fur.”
The stores have denied any prior awareness of the issue, with both companies blaming the mistake on external brands and suppliers. One Debenhams spokesperson ensured consumers the store was taking “immediate action” in correlation with its “No Fur” policy, further stating "we are investigating with the brand how this item entered the brand’s supply chain."The products have since been removed from shelves and their website.Meanwhile, customers are horrified at the idea that their high street purchases may contain real fur. Not only is it viewed as unethical to deceive buyers under these circumstances, but all fur products are required to be labelled as real or fake.The issue at hand not only stirs strong opinions from animal rights activists, but also regular consumers who feel uncomfortable with the purchase of real fur – particularly in the case of Angora rabbits, whose fur is plucked from their skin whilst still alive. This practice was publicly opposed by Debenhams in 2014.Consumers are often under the impression that the low price tag of the product rules out real animal fur. However, the use of real fur in clothing production in countries such as China is extremely common and often more cost effective than the manufacture of faux fur.
“It could be seen to encourage consumers that fur is fashionable.”
The issue surrounding faux fur products is ongoing. PETA members are consistently in dispute over faux fur, with some claiming it sends out the wrong message, as it could be seen to encourage consumers that fur is fashionable. This one case highlights a large problem with the faux fur phenomenon.There are a number of methods to tell whether or not fur is real or fake, including slightly burning the fur or inspecting the base. However, none of these tests are adequate in combating the false advertisement and sale of fur that may compromise the morals of both the buyer and supplier.The debate on faux fur is a difficult one, but the primary concern is that stores correctly inform their buyers on the product’s content so that the choice lies completely with the customer.