Retailers, local authorities and Trading Standards must do more to enforce regulations around the sale of real fur labelled as fake, a new report from the environment, food and rural affairs committee has found.
Retailers including House of Fraser, Missguided, TK Maxx, Boohoo, Amazon, Not On The High Street, Tesco, FatFace and Kurt Geiger have all been identified as mis-selling real fur as fake fur over the past few years.
During evidence sessions with the committee held in March and April, retailers and industry stakeholders outlined the difficulty in distinguishing real fur from fake fur, and questions were raised on where the responsibility lies.
However, Neil Parish MP, chair of the EFRA committee, said retailers must do more: “Retailers of all sizes are complacent about the issue of fake faux fur. It is illegal to give misleading information and Trading Standards have been poor at identifying and acting against those who are doing so. The government must ensure that local authorities are properly resourced, and local authorities should ensure that Trading Standards [officers] are properly trained.”
Missguided and Boohoo said they had since improved the education of their buyers, changed their checking processes and increased sample testing, while House of Fraser said it had worked closely with Humane Society International to improve awareness of the issue among staff.
Concerns were raised about how smaller businesses and market traders would be educated on this issue.
The committee said its inquiry highlighted that the current labelling system is confusing and not fit for purpose. House of Fraser and Boohoo called for improved labelling to improve transparency in the fur industry. Boohoo said more detailed and clearer labelling requirements (for example “real fur”, rather than “non-textile parts of animal origin”) for both manufacturers and suppliers would allow better traceability of fur origin and would allow consumers – both businesses and end customers – to make an informed choice regarding purchases.
Boohoo said a requirement for documentation to be available at customs to prove the authenticity of fake fur would assist in reducing prohibited fur from entering the UK market.
HoF, meanwhile, said that in the first instance measures should be taken to tighten the labelling regime.
“We are concerned by the lack of information that is required by law to be declared on products that contain real animal fur,” the department store wrote in a submission to the EFRA committee.
The report suggested that Brexit provides an opportunity for the UK to improve its system of labelling and it recommends a public consultation to ban the sale of fur outright.
“Brexit provides an opportunity to step up our game when it comes to labelling,” added Parish. “The labelling of clothes must be consistent, transparent and customer-friendly, but current EU requirements are not good enough to allow consumers to understand the origin and contents of their clothing.”