Fur Flies Over Century 21 Labels

Humane Society alleges errant labeling of raccoon dog fur.

An undercover investigation by The Humane Society of the United States and New York State Assembly member Linda B. Rosenthal (D., Manhattan) found that discount retailer Century 21 sold multiple garments containing real animal fur that in some cases were labeled as faux fur and in other cases were not labeled at all.

The sale of these garments, which included a Marc Jacobs jacket trimmed with raccoon dog fur but advertised as faux fur, are all in violation of state and federal fur labeling laws, including the 2007 New York State law authored by Rosenthal, according to investigators.

Pierre Gryzbowksi, research and enforcement manager of the HSUS’s fur-free campaign, said HSUS is looking into what law enforcement options are available at both the state and federal levels in regard to Century 21 and the brands.

A call to the retailer’s office in Secaucus, N.J., was not returned. However, the company posted a statement on its Facebook page that read, “Century 21 does not create garment labels, the [manufacturers] do. It is the [manufacturer’s] responsibility to provide an accurate account of materials used in the garment and to be transparent with the consumer before his or her purchase. We respect the diligence of the The Humane Society of the United States to uphold state and federal laws in regards to garment labeling.”

According to The Humane Society, investigators purchased three Marc by Marc Jacobs jackets online from Century 21 in September 2012 that were advertised as having “faux fur” trim. Upon delivery all three jacket labels indicated “real raccoon fur” from China, and laboratory testing of one jacket indicated it was actually raccoon dog.

Investigators also purchased and tested items from two Century 21 stores in New York, including a rabbit fur-trimmed infant sweater by Trust Fund Baby that was not labeled as such, a rabbit fur-trimmed cardigan by Muse of Love that was also not labeled and a rabbit fur-trimmed jacket by JNBY that said it was faux fur on the hang tag.

Under the federal Fur Products Labeling Act, all garments trimmed with animal fur must give the name of the animal and the country in which the animal was killed. It is a violation of federal law to misidentify the species of animal fur used in apparel.

“We are looking at increasing enforcement and writing new legislation to pump up penalties and include more articles of garments,” said Rosenthal.