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.”
Supermodel @helenachristensen teamed up with longtime friend and designer @camillastaerk on a joint @paredeyewear collaboration. The lineup features three styles and 11 offerings, all of which embody a vintage feel. Get all the details on how they celebrated the collab on WWD.com. #wwdaccessories #wwdeye (📷: @slovekinpics)
“It’s a hard industry to keep motivated, as well, so finding different subjects and people is what makes it worth it – when you’re like, oh, I’ve met great people, I feel like I’ve done something good, and I feel proud of having done this,” said French actress Stacy Martin on being grateful for the variety of roles she’s take on. Read @ktauer’s full interview with Martin on her her latest film “Godard Mon Amour.” #wwdeye (📷: @danieldorsa)
After showing in front of the Eiffel Tower for his last two women’s ready-to-wear collection, it looks like @anthonyvaccarello may be heading to the Big Apple. Sources say the designer will stage his next @ysl show in NYC on June 6. Get all the details on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
EXCLUSIVE: Two and half months after John Targon, cofounder and codesigner of Baja East, was hired as creative director of the contemporary division at Marc Jacobs, he has left the company, WWD has learned. Marc Jacobs International, which is owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, confirmed Targon’s departure in a statement: “John Targon is a talented designer and we appreciate the work he has done here. Ultimately working together did not make sense for the brand and we wish him the best.” Read the story by @jessiredale, link in bio. #wwdnews
@theluxurycollection is officially launching a collection, tapping Sofia Sanchez de Betak for the capsule. Over 30 styles will be featured in the Chufy x The Luxury Collection, debuting next month at Bergdorf Goodman, The Webster, FiveStory and more. De Betak, known as “@chufy,” drew inspiration for the collection from her trips to Japan in the past year #wwdfashion
@lhd, founder and CEO of @thewebster, has teamed up with @lebonmarcherivegauche for the European launch of her ready-to-wear line, LHD. The launch will come with an exclusive pop-up opening today that’s set to run through May 20. Located on the second floor, it carries her debut Miami-themed resort collection, launched in November as see-now-buy-now. #wwdfashion