Image: a pair of shoes by Missguided, found to contain cat fur. Image source.
A recent investigation by animal protection charity Humane Society International (HSI) claims to have found cat fur on a pair of shoes by UK high street brand Missguided. Which is a revelation that sheds very necessary light on the fact that many fast fashion retailers choose to label their fur incorrectly — if at all. “This is misleading ethical consumers, who assume it is fake because it’s cheap,” explains director of HSI UK Claire Bass. “Consumers don’t know what they are buying”. Of course, this is incredibly problematic because it means that those consumers genuinely trying to make better decisions can be tricked into just the opposite.
Which is why HSI is so committed to pulling up big brands when they aren’t transparent about how their clothes are made and, in this case, what they are made from. So after testing the so-called ‘fur’ in a lab, HSI found that cat fur is still being sold in the UK today, despite being banned for use in clothing right across the European Union from 2009. The charity has had an ongoing campaign against the fur trade for two years now, but says this was the first time it has found cat fur in the high street since the campaign began. “I’m sure we will find more,” Bass said, explaining that this might be just the tip of the iceberg.
While cat fur might be a new discovery for the charity, HSI has previously found the likes of rabbit, raccoon, dog and mink being sold as faux fur in a concession within UK department store House of Fraser. With this in mind then, it’s likely their investigation in partnership with Sky News will unearth even more examples of this in the months to come.
In terms of taking things further, HSI said it is currently in the process of writing a report to the Trading Standards’ office for further investigation. Meanwhile, both Missguided and House of Fraser say they are taking the matter very seriously. “Missguided does not condone the use of fur in any of its products therefore we take the allegations very seriously,” said a company spokeswoman. “We have launched an internal investigation with the relevant suppliers and will ensure these matters are addressed urgently.”
House of Fraser also says it has a strict no fur policy that it ensures all suppliers and brand partners are aware of. “We would never knowingly mislead our customers, who we believe have the right to know what they [are] purchasing. We are extremely concerned that fur can be mislabelled in this way, particularly for brands that we stock.” Furthermore, the department store says it has now removed all implicated products and will offer a full refund on any purchases made.
Despite the fact that fur farms have been banned in the UK since 2003 though, real fur from Asia continues to crop up in the supply chain. “In China, millions of cats are being killed for the meat trade and it is possible that the fur of these animals are going into the fur trade,” Bass said. She also pointed out that Missguided may not have been aware of what they were purchasing, but that we do need to be more vigilant in ensuring consumers are properly informed.
Bass says that a big part of the problem here is a “lingering misconception” that real fur is synonymous with luxury. “The key thing is that cheap price is absolutely not an indicator that something is going to be fake fur,” she elaborated. “In a survey we have done, we have found that 50 per cent of people think because it is cheap it cannot be real fur but that is really not the case.”
HSI also found that nearly 80% of people surveyed thought it was unacceptable for people to buy and sell products in the UK containing fur not only from cats and dogs, but also from seals, foxes, raccoons, minks and rabbits. Which is why the charity is now urging the government to consider a ban on all fur imports. In the meantime though, Bass says consumers can check for themselves to see if the ‘fur’ in question is attached to a piece of fabric rather than skin or pelt.
Via The Independent