Garment labels provide consumers with government-imposed purchasing information. If a company manufactures, imports or sells fur garments or accessories, it must comply with the labeling requirements under the Fur Products Labeling Act (“FPLA”), as imposed by the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”).
What Needs to be Labeled?
Garments made entirely or partly with fur must have a label disclosing:
- The animal name in accordance with the Fur Products Name Guide (“Guide”) (16 CFR 301). Note: Some animals on the list may be endangered species, and thus, the sale of their fur is prohibited. Additionally, the Dog and Cat Protection Act of 2000 (66 FR 42163) “prohibits importing, exporting, selling, trading, advertising, transporting, or distributing any products made with dog or cat fur.” (FTC).
- The name or Registered Identification Number (RN) of the manufacturer, importer or other seller, marketer or distributor of the fur.
- The country of origin for imported fur products, including the country of origin for imported furs made into fur products in the U.S.
This label must state the fur’s origin with the words “Fur Origin;” for example, “Fur Origin: Russia.” The country of origin of the fur garment may be different from the country of origin of the fur itself. You must mark imported garments in accordance with the marking statute (19 U.S.C. §1304) enforced by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
- If the fur is pointed, dyed, bleached, or artificially colored. If these treatments were not used, the fur should be labeled as “natural.”
- If the fur product is composed of more than 10 percent of surface area of pieces, such as paws, tails, bellies, gills, ears, throats, heads, scraps or waste fur.
- If the fur is used or damaged.
- The textile or wool content of the product, its country of origin and its manufacturer or dealer identity. For example, the label on a wool coat with fur trim must disclose the wool content as required by the Wool Act and Rules.
Mechanics of Labeling
- Size – Labels must be visible and obvious.
- Durability – The label must be durable enough to remain on the fur garment until it is delivered to the consumer.
- Lettering – The required information must be “legible, conspicuous, and readily accessible to the consumer, with all parts of the information in letters of equal size and conspicuousness and on the same side of the label. There are no specific label and font size requirements.” (FTC).
- You may use a single label to disclose the required information for items marketed or handled in pairs or ensembles if they contain the same fur and have the same country of origin, even if the items are not physically attached.
- You may include true and non-deceptive information on both sides of the label.
- You are NOT required to: Disclose that fur comes from “sides” or “flanks” or includes an item number on labels (or invoices); or Place the required information in a specific order on the label.
Enforcement of the Fur Act
Manufacturers, importers, distributors and retail sellers are responsible for complying with fur labeling requirements and may be subject to civil or criminal penalties for selling mislabeled products. A violation of the FPLA or the Commission’s rules under the Act is considered an unfair method of competition and an unfair and deceptive act or practice under the FTC Act. The Commission may issue an administrative order prohibiting conduct that violates the Act. Violators of an administrative order are subject to monetary civil penalties of up to $16,000 per violation. Each instance of mislabeling is considered a separate violation. Criminal proceedings can be brought against willful violators of the FPLA. (FTC).
Sellers may protect themselves from liability under the Act and Rules for selling misbranded fur products by asking their U.S. supplier of fur products for a guaranty of compliance with the FPLA and Fur Rules and relying on the guaranty in good faith. You can satisfy the separate guaranty form’s signature requirement by including the guarantor’s printed name and address. You don’t need to show the shipment date. (FTC).
The FTC will not bring enforcement actions against retailers that:
- Can’t legally get a guaranty under the Fur Act;
- Don’t embellish or misrepresent claims made by the manufacturer related to the Act or Rules; and
- Don’t market the products as private label products.
However, if a retailer knew or should have known the marketing or sale of an item would violate the Fur Act or Rules, those protections won’t apply. (FTC).