SUIT CHARGES 5 FIRMS WITH FALSE LABELING
NEW YORK — A cashmere trade group has filed suit in Boston Federal Court charging three department stores and two manufacturers with overstating the cashmere content in coats.
The Cashmere and Camel Hair Manufacturers Institute said in court papers that it purchased from stores in Boston and New York coats purporting to contain between 10 percent and 20 percent cashmere, but a laboratory analysis revealed the coats contained “virtually no cashmere.”
The retailers named in the suit are Saks Fifth Avenue, Filene’s Basement and May Department Stores Co., owner of Filene’s Department Stores. Manufacturers charged are Harve Benard Ltd. and George Weintraub & Sons Inc. All are charged with violating the Wool Products Labeling Act and the federal Lanham Trademark Act.
L.W. Packard & Co., Ashland, N.H., a manufacturer of cashmere coats it sells through Warshaw Woolen Associates here, joined the Cashmere Institute in the suit, claiming it suffered an undisclosed level of damages as a result of the mislabeling of the coats.
The seven-page complaint asks the court to stop the stores from selling the allegedly falsely labeled coats, to keep the manufacturers from producing the coats, to force the defendants to list the true cashmere content and to make an accounting of sales of the coats.
In a statement Monday, Harve Benard denied its coats contained less than the stated levels of cashmere and called the suit’s charges “baseless and without merit.”
“Harve Benard stands by its labels unconditionally,” it said in the statement. “The company firmly believes that all of its merchandise contains at least the cashmere content stated on the label.”
The company said it has its cashmere coats tested by an independent laboratory to insure cashmere content. Harve Benard said it intends to oppose vigorously the institute’s lawsuit.
A spokesman for May Co. said it was the company’s policy not to comment on pending litigation. The other defendants did not return phone calls seeking comment.