By  on February 16, 2009

NEW YORK — The Humane Society of the U.S. and a New York assemblywoman alleged Monday that some major retailers violated the state fur labeling law.

Humane Society investigators and Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal (D., Manhattan) said they visited Bloomingdale’s, Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue in January and found fur-trimmed jackets without labeling to identify the kind of fur used. A state law requiring retailers to clearly indicate whether they are using synthetic or real fur in the garments they sell went into effect in November 2007.

“We’ve found time and time again that fur-trimmed jackets that were advertised as fake fur — that consumers were told were faux or synthetic fur — turned out through our laboratory testing to be fur from real animals,” said Michael Markarian, Humane Society executive vice president.

Rosenthal, who proposed the original legislation, and the investigators used undercover cameras to document the confusion that the lack of labeling caused. The videos show sales clerks telling the investigators, posing as shoppers, that they believed certain furs to be rabbit. Moments later, another sales clerk said the fur was fox. Most clerks said they were aware that the products were supposed to be clearly labeled and that if no label was present they assumed the fur to be fake.

“It’s really just a small effort they [retailers] have to take to comply with the law and keep their customers informed,” Rosenthal said.

Unlabeled items included a children’s jacket from the Parajumpers label and a jacket by Steve by Searle purchased at Bloomingdale’s. Bergdorf’s and Saks were both found to be selling an unlabeled Moncler jacket with fur.

“As a retailer of thousands of different items, Bloomingdale’s must rely upon its suppliers to ensure that each item that it sells is labeled properly,” said Macy’s Inc., parent of Bloomingdale’s. “This is part of our agreements with our vendor partners. When we are advised of a potential discrepancy, we promptly investigate, notify the supplier and take appropriate action. Today was the first time we learned that there may be an issue.”

A spokeswoman for Bergdorf’s parent Neiman Marcus Inc. said the company could not comment on an ongoing legal matter. “Diligent efforts are being made to reach a settlement,” she said.

Saks did not respond to a request for comment.

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