Major Department Stores Caught Selling Dog Fur Coats: The Fake Debate Takes On a Whole New Level

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A story broke a few weeks ago about major retailers/designers like Tommy Hilfiger and Nordstrom, selling “faux fur” jackets really made out of dog fur (yes, fur from fido).  Regardless of where you fall in the fur debate, this is a pretty disturbing story. Not to say that dogs are “more important animals” than say rabbits, cows, or minks (what is the plural of minks? Minx?), it’s just that when you purchase a mink coat, you KNOW you’re purchasing a mink coat and in this case it seems that several animal lovers may have purchased items that were made from dogs.

From the Associated Press:

The Humane Society of the United States said it purchased coats from reputable outlets, such as upscale Nordstrom, with designer labels—Andrew Marc, Tommy Hilfiger, for example and found them trimmed with fur from domestic dogs, even though the fur was advertised as fake.

In response to the public outcry regarding this issue, members of Congress recently drafted The Dog and Cat Fur Prohibition Enforcement Act, H.R. 891, which “aims to strengthen the current law and protect consumers and animals by outlawing the import of fur from raccoon dogs and requiring all garments trimmed with fur to be labeled, regardless of value.”

I can’t help wondering why a manufacturer would use dog fur in the first place? I would think that using animal fur is a much more difficult process (you have to catch the animal, prepare the hide, etc.). Isn’t cheaper to just use faux fur? As a bargain shopper, I’ve always suspected that something was fishy (or should I say doggie) with some of the faux fur items I’ve purchased.

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  • Chantal

    This is absolutely absurd, why would you do such a thing???
    I’m so disturbed, I can’t even find words to describe everything that is wrong with this.

  • Jen

    Thanks so much for bringing this to my attention. I didn’t realize that some “fakes” were real. I would be beyond horrified—what a terrible violation of consumer’s trust. As you say, that’s what’s the worst: you are misled into thinking it’s fake.

  • TBF

    I don’t want to be hypocritical.. I do own a real fur coat that is a family heirloom with a great deal of sentimental attachment. However, would I buy one- probably not because a- they are WAAAY to Expensive and B- I haven’t quite figured out where I stand on the issue. I’m definitely against harming animals, but for those who live in very cold climates (like Minnesota) the coats are the warmest thing people can find.

    I think most folks are like me, somewhere in the middle when it comes to the issue of fur.

  • Heather

    Why kill any animal at all? In the past, there may have been some necessity to it (i.e., warmth), but now that we have so many effective synthetic materials, we don’t need to emaciate and skin alive animals. And aren’t all animals equal in regard? If you love your dog, why can’t you have compassion for a chinchilla or a fox? As Gandhi said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

  • lisa

    Please log onto the Humane Society website to find out how to write your congressman and ask them to support the Dog and Cat Fur Prohibition Enforcement Act. Regardless of your stance on fur, this act demands that products be properly labelled. The address is
    Please call or email the Tommy Hilfiger publicity department and demand that they make a better apology and prove they are truly sorry, whether or not they were aware of what they were doing, by asking them to make a large donation to the Humane Society. The contact info is :
    Marybeth Schmitt
    The Tommy Hilfiger Corporation
    [email protected]

    Thanks guys!

  • tini

    I think the main issue here is consumer misinformation – if you want to buy a fake fur coat then it’s because you obviously don’t want to buy a coat made of real animal fur. This is why this story is so disturbing.

    On the dog vs fox vs mink vs other furry animal debate – I personally stand against any type of fur. To find out that a shop selling fake fur coats is misinforming/lying to customers because the coats are in fact made out of say, fox fur, is equally outrageous. I personally don’t believe the ‘but these animals are specifically farmed for their fur’ argument. After all, battery chickens are specifcally farmed for their eggs, right?….

    I believe you can have style and be a fashionista and still be kind. I say no to any kind of animal fur.

    PS: Love your website!



  • Lana

    I saw the story that ran on The Today Show, and while it’s of little consolation, there are two points to consider:

    One, domestic dog fur can’t be distinguished from coyote fur, which has been used as trim for a long time. While some people may argue that using coyote fur is still wrong, I’m certain that other people’s minds will be put at rest to know that Tommy Hilfiger probably isn’t going down to the local pound and slaughtering pets for his coats.

    Two, some of the fur used is from the “Asiatic raccoon”, a type of animal fur sold in China. The Humane Society regards the Asiatic Raccoon as a type of dog; the fur trade claims the Asiatic Raccoon is a breed unto its own. That discrepancy alone is enough to cast doubt into my mind over whether designers knowingly used “dog fur” for their coats.

    I don’t defend or condemn the use of fur. But I wonder, if you’re a person who’s against fur, why even buy faux? Isn’t that just perpetuating the use, and possible misunderstandings that follow, of fur-like trim on clothing?

    In other words, if you’re someone who’s against real fur, why would you even promote the look of it with faux? Why not just skip the trim all together?

  • lisa

    here is a copy of the pre-written, standard form response Tommy Hilfiger publicity sent me when I emailed them. It’s basically their press release rewritten and they refuse to take any responsibility for their actions:

    As you are aware, The Tommy Hilfiger Corporation has recently announced that it will discontinue the use of fur in apparel companywide. Starting immediately, the Company will cease development of any product containing fur, and any fur garment already in production will be phased out of sales channels by the delivery of the spring 2008 collection.

    As a Company that believes in the humane treatment of animals, the issue of fur usage is something the Tommy Hilfiger Corporation has been discussing internally for quite some time. When the Humane Society went public with its findings, the Company immediately responded by removing all product in question from the market and lending its support to the Dog and Cat Fur Prohibition Enforcement Act (H.R. 891).

    While two sets of tests run on multiple jacket samples by independent labs have since indicated that the fur on our garments was indeed genuine Coyote fur � a legal material � we�ve determined that there�s a risk of uncertainty inherent in any use of fur, no matter how limited.

    Tommy Hilfiger�s decision to go completely fur-free ensures that our high ethical standards for production are upheld. Although fur has never really been central to our design philosophy, there is always the risk that the process for such sourced materials, no matter how limited the output, can fall short of guidelines in spite of applying the highest levels of diligence and control. To rule out this risk and guarantee our products live up to the integrity we promise our customers, we have decided to switch to a faux fur policy entirely.

    The limited numbers of fur-detailed designs currently in production were manufactured in accordance with the Company�s strict guidelines for humane animal treatment. Beginning with the spring 2008 collection, the Company will use only faux fur to ensure these standards are achieved and maintained.

  • lisa

    I posted a previous comment, but I would like to say one more thing. Nordstrom makes me sick. Not only do they knowingly use and sell dog fur, but they run the most pathetic operation i’ve ever seen. as someone who used to work there, I can tell you that they treat the employees like crap and basically accuse them all of stealing even when they are standing there holding a receipt. and meanwhile, they knowingly sit back and allow people to steal and return things that they stole for cash- and they do nothing about it, other than hike up their prices to account for the loss. I only shopped their out of necessity before- It is the only decent department store within a 30 mile radius of my home- but after this dog story I’m through. There is no excuse for that type of irresponsible and sick behavior. How on earth can a Nordstrom executive pass by a seeing eye dog on the street and then allow the company to go kill and skin a dog the very next day. Sickos!!!

  • lisa

    That is absolutely horrendous! I think it is sick to make clothes using dog fur. And then to pretend the clothes are made with fake fur- that should be criminal! I read earlier this week that Tommy Hilfiger was banning the use of animal fur in his clothes. Now I realize he just wanted to make his image stronger before this news broke. I am truly disgusted and will never buy his clothes (not that I would anyway because I happen to think he is one of the most boring and unoriginal American designers out there). I am someone who has bought real fur in the past- and whether that was right or wrong is another story- but at least I knew what I was buying, and the designers and stores were honest. And to be perfectly honest, I believe making clothes out of dog fur is worse than making them out of mink or fox fur. Some people will be mad at this comment, but there is a food chain and natural heirarchy of animals in nature. To make something out of dog fur, when dogs are man’s best friend and our loyal companions, is truly sick. There is no excuse for these designers’ dishonesty and use of dog fur. We should boycott them!!!