Retailers Including Boohoo & TK Maxx Have Been Selling Real Fur As "Fake"

illustrated by Louisa Cannell.

Fur farming was banned in the UK almost two decades ago and the vast majority of the population is anti-fur, opting instead for ethical faux alternatives which are just as warm as real fur and arguably more fashionable.

But if you've ever bought "faux fur", there's a chance you may have been unwittingly wearing the real thing, a new Sky News investigation suggests.

Big-name retailers – including TK Maxx, Boohoo, Amazon, Etsy and Not On The High Street – have been selling rabbit, mink and fox fur labelled as "faux".

Sky News and the charity Humane Society International (HSI) asked a fibres expert to test the fur on a number of items and found it to be real, with bobble hats, keychains, scarves, shoes and coats some of the most common items to be deceptively sold as "faux". Shoppers are lured into a false sense of security by the low cost of such items, as they're unaware that real fur trim often costs the same or even less than faux versions, HSI said.

Among the expert's findings:

– TK Maxx was found to be selling a fox fur coat advertised as fake (despite the company claiming it hasn't sold any real animal fur since 2003)
– Boohoo was selling £5 mink fur earrings and rabbit fur bridal shoes
– Miss Bardo was selling an £8 fox fur bobble hat (despite claiming it doesn't sell real fur)
– Amazon was selling rabbit fur children’s shoes
– Not On The High Street was selling a rabbit fur keychain
– Groupon was selling a rabbit fur keychain
– Etsy was selling mink fur earrings

Boohoo has since removed the items from sale and said the breach of standards by its suppliers was being investigated; TK Maxx said customers with concerns can get a full refund on the items in question; Groupon told Sky News it was "reviewing both the supplier and our internal processes to ensure this doesn't happen again"; Amazon said the mislabelled items were no longer available; Miss Bardo said it will be changing its supplier in future; and Etsy said the sale of fur from non-endangered or non-threatened species it permitted on its platform but that mis-selling is "strictly prohibited".

Missguided was exposed for doing the same thing back in April, when it was found to be selling a pair of heels made with cat fur rather than the "faux fur" that was advertised. House of Fraser, Amazon and Lily Lulu were also implicated in the fur mis-selling scandal eight months ago.

Claire Bass, executive director of HSI UK, described the amount of fake faux fur being sold online as "truly shocking", adding that it was appalling that shoppers who are going out of their way to avoid buying real fur for ethical reasons are being misled.

She continued: "The combination of trusted brands, cheap prices, and items described as 'faux' or '100% acrylic', means many people will be justifiably horrified to discover they’ve inadvertently bought animal fur. Consumers rightly expect brands to sell what they say they’re selling, so urgent action is needed to stop this insidious creep of fur through the back door.”

A cross-party group of MPs are now calling for all fur imports into the UK to be banned. Green Party leader and MP Caroline Lucas said the revelations highlight "the fact that this fur can be imported incredibly cheaply which probably just speaks to really appalling conditions that those animals are kept in."

She added: "The UK's final fur farms were closed in 2003, and yet we still import fur from countries with arguably worse animal welfare standards."

You can sign HSI's #FurFreeBritain petition, calling for an import ban on all animal fur, here.

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