LONDON — Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority has ruled against the online fashion retailer Boohoo.com and accessories retailer Zacharia Jewellers for mislabeling products as faux fur.
In September 2018, Humane Society International, the animal welfare charity, discovered that Zacharia Jewellers’ faux fur pom-pom headband, which was being sold on Amazon, and Boohoo’s faux fur pom-pom sweater contained real fur in a test conducted by an independent textiles analyst.
In response to the allegations, both retailers claimed they were being misled by their suppliers.
The ASA ruled that the items in question breached the Committee of Advertising Practice’s code of conduct and said both retailers falsely advertised their products and led consumers to believe they were purchasing fur-free items.
In a statement provided to WWD by Boohoo, the retailer said “the product in question was checked for real fur using our own approved tests and procedures by our in-house Quality Assurance team and the results of the testing showed that real fur was not present in the product.”
While the ASA acknowledged Boohoo’s quality control procedures, it still upheld its ruling given the evidence submitted by Humane Society International.
Boohoo said they are continuing their own investigations. “We uphold our commitment against the sale of real fur in any of our products and continue to investigate the matter internally and with our supplier in question, and we do so with a matter of priority,” the company said.
Last year, a British parliamentary committee reviewed the U.K.’s labeling policies and stressed the importance of implementing a clearer labeling system. Suggestions on how to improve the system were made, such as implementing a certification system for fur products.
David Lowe, partner and supply chain expert at the international law firm Gowling WLG, said the ASA ruling “acts as a stark reminder to brand owners to conduct thorough due diligence checks throughout the increasingly complex supply chain and garment manufacturing process.”
“Working with suppliers who have a second- or even third-tier perspective means that any assurances about the nature of material being used or purchased by vendors cannot be taken on face value, with ultimate accountability for any claims made sitting firmly with the retailer.
“While the onus to maintain this is important in its own right, the increasing trend for consumers to consider strong ethics as a USP — and therefore reason to buy — makes this even more important than ever.”