High street giants are misleading consumers into buying real fur from foxes, rabbits, chinchillas and mink, by falsely advertising them as fake - an investigation by Humane Society International UK and Sky News has revealed.
Boohoo, Amazon, and Not On The High Street have all been discovered selling items such as bobble hats, keychains, scarves, shoes and coats advertised as faux fur when laboratory tests revealed them to be real animal fur.
Many of these items have deceptively low price points. Low standards on fur farms means real fur trim often costs the same or even less than faux fur.
Claire Bass, Executive Director of Humane Society International UK, said: "The amount of fake faux fur online is truly shocking, with even trusted retailers mis-selling real animal fur as synthetic.
"It is appalling that British shoppers, who are actively choosing not to buy real fur because of the terrible animal suffering, are being misled into buying the very same fur products they’re trying to avoid.
"The combination of trusted brands, cheap prices, and items described as 'faux' or '100 percent acrylic', means many people will be justifiably horrified to discover they’ve inadvertently bought animal fur.
"Consumers rightly expect brands to sell what they say they’re selling, so urgent action is needed to stop this insidious creep of fur through the back door."
According to HSI, consumer Jayne Webster got in touch to report concerns about the key chain that she bought from T.K. Maxx, after being assured it was faux fur by shop staff.
HSI sent the keychain off for testing and found it to be made of rabbit fur.
Webster said: "As a company who proudly boasts that they have not sold fur or angora products since 2003, I would assume that TK Maxx takes a strong ethical stance on this issue.
"So when I found out that the fur pom-pom I bought was actually made of rabbit fur I was extremely disappointed and concerned.
"I am aware of the horrific suffering that animals on fur farms go through and would never want to buy real fur, I don’t know how companies can get away with this."
According to HIS, the vast majority of the British public are against wearing fur.
A 2016 YouGov poll shows nine out of 10 Brits believe that it is unacceptable to buy and sell real fur, averaged across nine species.
Although fur farming was outlawed in the UK on moral grounds in 2000, and EU regulations ban fur from domestic cats, dogs or commercial seal hunts, the UK still imports and sells fur from a range of other species such as fox, rabbit, mink, coyote, racoon dog, and chinchilla.
Bass says: "The government banned fur farming as unethical in the UK more than ten years ago, but perversely we have since been importing that same cruelty from fur farms overseas.
"The vast majority of British people believe that animal fur has no place in our high streets and wardrobes, and would support a UK ban.
"Mandatory, clear labelling of all fur is urgently needed to stop consumers being misled, but ultimately to properly protect both animals and consumers, the Government must use the opportunity presented by Brexit to ban all UK fur imports."
Fake faux fur items include
- T.K. Maxx, fox fur coat
- Boohoo, mink fur earrings
- Boohoo, rabbit fur shoes
- Miss Bardo, fox fur hat
- Amazon, rabbit fur children’s shoes
- Not On The High Street, rabbit fur keychain
- Groupon, rabbit fur keychain
- Etsy, mink fur earrings
HSI is campaigning for the British Government to make the United Kingdom a fur-free zone by extending the cat, dog and seal fur bans to include all fur-bearing species.