Why Is Real Fur Pretending to Be Fake?

Every few months or so, we seem to hear about a new scandal involving real fur masquerading as faux: A raid here, an investigation there--it's all very dramatic. So why, exactly, would a label want to substitute (in theory) a much more dear material for a synthetic version? How can it possibly be cost-effective?
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Nora Crotty
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Every few months or so, we seem to hear about a new scandal involving real fur masquerading as faux: A raid here, an investigation there--it's all very dramatic. So why, exactly, would a label want to substitute (in theory) a much more dear material for a synthetic version? How can it possibly be cost-effective?
A look from Moncler Gamme Rouge's fall collection. That's all real.

A look from Moncler Gamme Rouge's fall collection. That's all real.

Every few months or so, we seem to hear about a new scandal involving real fur masquerading as faux: A raid here, an investigation there--it's all very dramatic. Most recently, several designer items at an Upper West Side Century 21 store were cited for the mislabeling of real fur (notably, some Marc Jacobs jackets were labeled as faux when they were actually made from Chinese raccoon dogs). On Tuesday, Neiman Marcus and two other retailers settled similar claims in a federal court, agreeing to abide by the Fur Products Labeling Act for the next two decades, according to the Wall Street Journal.

So why, exactly, would a label would want to substitute (in theory) a much more dear material for a synthetic version? How can it possibly be cost-effective?

As per the New York Times, it is--and here's why: In spite of society's changing opinion of real fur used in fashion (and the overwhelming approval of fur by big name labels), faux fur is still de rigueur when it come to marketing. It seems that, in an effort to rid itself of surplus, the fur industry is doing everything it can to keep up--including mislabeling its product.

Dan Mathews, senior vice president with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), told the Times, “In this global marketplace, there are fur farms in China that raise dogs for clothing that is labeled as fake fur here in the U.S. because that’s what the market best responds to.”

An additional theory for the mislabeling takes a more accidental approach, citing poor language translation between countries producing and selling garments--though, in this era of Google Translator, we find it a bit hard to swallow that real-as-faux is mere miscommunication. Is Anna Wintour now the sole entity keeping the fur trade in commission?