WASHINGTON — The Federal Trade Commission has fined four retailers — Macy’s Inc., Sears Roebuck and Co., Amazon Inc. and Leon Max Inc. — a combined $1.26 million for allegedly falsely labeling rayon products as made of bamboo.
The federal agency said the retail organizations ignored warning letters for two years.
“When attempting to appeal to environmentally conscious consumers, companies need to ensure they don’t cross the line into misleading labeling and advertising,” said Charles Harwood, acting director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “If a textile is made of rayon, sellers need to say that, even if bamboo was used somewhere along the line in the production process.”
The agency said the four retailers violated the Textile Products Identification Act and the FTC’s textile rules by labeling and advertising products sold in stores and online as made of bamboo when they were made of rayon.
Sears, including its Kmart subsidiaries, agreed to pay $475,000 to settle the charges, while Amazon agreed to pay $455,000, Macy’s $250,000 and Leon Max $80,000.
The FTC cited specific examples for each retailer. Leon Max, doing business as Max Studio, sold a “silk and bamboo broadcloth shirred shell” it allegedly claimed was made of “delicate and eco-friendly bamboo and silk fabric” comprised of 65 percent bamboo and 35 percent silk, as well as a “Football Tee” that it claimed was 50 percent bamboo and 50 percent cotton.
Macy’s allegedly advertised and sold products labeled as bamboo, using the term “bamboo” and “bamboo fiber” on labels, including a “contour campus pouch brief.” Sears and Amazon allegedly claimed that some sheet sets were made of “100 percent bamboo” or contained bamboo.
The agency first brought charges against companies allegedly selling rayon textiles labeled as bamboo in 2009 and settled with four other companies at that time. It then sent warning letters to 78 companies in January 2010 warning them to stop mislabeling rayon products as bamboo. That followed a ruling that year in which the FTC said the process required to turn bamboo into a soft textile, which requires extensive chemical processing, essentially turns the raw material into rayon, a man-made fiber.
“The rayon manufacturing process uses toxic chemicals and results in the emission of hazardous air pollutants,” the FTC said at the time. “And, despite the claims of ‘Pure Bamboo’ and ‘Bamboosa,’ the commission charges that these rayon products are not biodegradable because they will not break down in a reasonably short time after customary disposal. Most clothing and textiles are disposed of either by recycling or sending to a landfill. Neither method results in quick biodegradation.”
In a separate announcement, the FTC implemented a new enforcement policy under the Textile Fiber Products Identification Act, the Wool Products Labeling Act and the Fur Products Labeling Act that allows retailers to avoid liability for false advertising if they obtain a good faith “guaranty” from a U.S. supplier that certifies the products are not mislabeled, falsely invoiced or falsely advertised.
Retailers are not allowed to obtain a guaranty from a foreign supplier of textile, wool and fur products.
In addition, the FTC’s new enforcement policy clarifies that a company that imports from a foreign supplier and cannot obtain a good faith guaranty will only be liable if they “know or should have known of the violation and did not modify or embellish the claims of the supplier provided or market the product as private-label product.”
Taking the final spot on the mens’ portion of New York Fashion Week calendar next month will be none other than @tomford. Though he’s shown his men’s wear in New York in the past, this will mark the first time the designer has shown his men’s collection alone during New York Fashion Week: Men’s. His runway show will debut on February 6 at the Park Avenue Armory. #wwdfashion
London-based couture house @ralphandrusso has certainly been in the spotlight, having its dresses worn by @beyonce, Angelina Jolie, Meghan Markle in her engagement photos and more. For couture, Tamara Ralph focused on ornamentation — think: feathers with chain mail, jet embroidery and clusters of pearls and crystals. See the rest of the collection on WWD.com #wwdfashion #couture (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo)
Minnie Mouse celebrated her 90th birthday by getting her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. For her celebratory luncheon, @coach’s creative director @stuartvevers dressed her in a custom made prairie dress, complete with Vever’s take on the polka dot – black sequined versions – under a cropped motorcycle jacket. The designer also put his own mark on Minnie’s classic red shoes, infusing the color with sparkles and adding some Coach crystals. “We chose colors that were very Minnie and also represented quintessential Coach elements,” said Vevers. #wwdfashion #nationalpolkadotday (📷: George Chinsee)
@nickjonas is unveiling his first-ever apparel collection through a partnership with John Varvatos. The limited-edition capsule, which makes its debut in spring, also marks the first time the designer has collaborated with anyone on a line. “The process in working with Nick is amazing. It’s inspiring to be around someone who is not only connected with the trade that they do, but also with what’s happening in the environment around him, and how that connects to what we do with style,” said Varvatos. (RG: @johnvarvatos) #wwdfashion
@margotrobbie steps out onto the red carpet wearing @miumiu. The actress is nominated for “Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role” in “I, Tonya” at the #SagAwards. (📷: Stewart Cook) #wwdfashion
For @massimogiorgetti of @msgm, the Nineties are his favorite decade. “They had a huge impact on my personal growth. What I like of the Nineties is that they are not so precise in terms of style as other decades…there was actually a bit of everything,” he said. As seen on MSGM’s Spring 2018 show: tie-dye and a bit of grunge, two styles that are synonymous with the decade #wwdfashion #wwddecades (📷: @kukukuba)