With more consumers interested in the materials that make up their clothing, retailers must ensure the necessary checks are in place when selling items as faux fur or risk losing the trust of shoppers.

Shoppers are becoming more aware of the products they buy and the environmental impact of their purchases. As a result, consumers are reducing the amount of clothing they purchase and are reconsidering how frequently they buy, as well as putting a greater focus on animal welfare.

In reaction to the latter, clothing retailers must ensure the products they sell that contain imitation animal fur or skins, e.g. faux fur pompoms or pleather (imitation leather made from polyurethane), either do not contain any traces of animal products or that if traces may be present, that this is stated in the product description.

Boohoo, Misguided faux fur

Boohoo recently faced the wrath of consumers when it did not make the necessary checks when declaring one of its products was faux fur. Its ‘faux fur’ pompom jumper was found to have real animal fur in the detailing (thought to be from rabbit).

For the consumer, it can be difficult to determine what is real and what is fake, particularly when shopping online.

Boohoo should have learned from its competitor’s mistake, with Misguided found to be selling a pair of shoes advertised as having faux fur pompom trims, which contained real fur in 2017. While the retailer did pull this product from its site when this was discovered, just as Boohoo has done, it highlights the challenges that consumers face when shopping for clothing and footwear. Retailers must make a concerted effort to ensure that products are labelled correctly and provide full details about what the products are made of, or risk alienating and losing the trust of the growing proportion of animal-friendly customers.

While Boohoo has stated that it has ‘robust’ policies and procedures in place to ensure it does not sell real fur products, but when these measures fail customers will question whether these mistakes are made out of negligence.

This type of mistake can be highly damaging for a retailer’s image and may take a long time to repair, and given the availability to test these items before they reach shoppers, retailers have no excuses for misleading consumers.