A product listing for a jumper, seen on www.boohoo.com in September 2018, stated "Faux Fur Pom Pom Jumper", alongside an image of the product.
Humane Society International, who understood that the pom poms were real fur, challenged whether the ad was misleading.
Boohoo.com UK Ltd said they had a strong commitment against the sale of real fur in any of their products. They said that they had robust policies and procedures to ensure they were able to adhere to this commitment. The product description on the website stated “Faux Fur Pom Pom Jumper” as it was their understanding that the item did not contain real fur. The items were obtained from an external UK-based supplier, who were aware of Boohoo’s commitment against the sale of real fur and had signed a supplier acknowledgement form committing to not supplying products containing real fur. Furthermore, a proportion of all stock which contained faux fur was inspected by Boohoo’s quality control team. The tests included separating the fur and inspecting the base, inspecting the feel and consistency of the stock, visually inspecting the hairs of the stock, particularly the ends, and completing a burn test. These were methods commonly used within the sector to test for real fur. If stock failed the initial tests, it was sent for further testing and the remaining stock quarantined subject to the results of further tests. A sample of the product in question had been recorded as having passed the internal checks, therefore it was not sent for further checks. That notwithstanding, Boohoo had withdrawn the product from sale on their website until the matter was resolved and had stopped placing further orders with the supplier.
The ad stated “Faux Fur Pom Pom Jumper”. The ASA considered that consumers would understand this to mean that the garment did not contain real animal fur. We noted that Humane Society International had purchased a sample of the product. They had commissioned a test report from an independent textiles analysis expert, which was provided to the ASA. The report stated that the sample had been identified microscopically by detailed examination and comparison with authentic reference samples, and included detailed notes on the shape and texture of the fibres. The results reported that the “faux fur” from the sample was real animal fur, most likely rabbit.
We acknowledged that Boohoo had removed the product from sale following receipt of the complaint. We also acknowledged that they had quality control procedures in place to identify real animal fur, though we understood they did not retain detailed reports on the tested stock other than to say that it had passed those tests. Boohoo’s records showed that a sample of fur from the product in question had passed internal tests. However, given that we had seen evidence that the product obtained by Humane Society International contained real animal fur, we concluded that the ad was misleading and breached the Code.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising) and 3.7 3.7 Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that consumers are likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation. The ASA may regard claims as misleading in the absence of adequate substantiation. (Substantiation).
The ad must not appear again in the form complained about. We told Boohoo.com UK Ltd not to state that products included “faux fur”, if that was not the case.