Macy's has pulled from its shelves and its Web site two styles of Sean John hooded jackets, originally advertised as featuring faux fur, after an investigation by the nation's largest animal protection organization concluded that the garments were actually made from a certain species of dog called "raccoon dog."
"First these jackets were falsely advertised as faux fur, and then it turned out that the fur came from a type of dog," said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States.
Pacelle added that the issue is an "industry-wide problem" and its investigation demonstrated that retailers and designers "aren't paying close enough attention to the fur trim they are selling." He added that the issue is especially problematic when "the fur is sourced from China where domestic dogs and cats and raccoon dogs are killed in gruesome ways."
Raccoon dogs — which are not domestic animals — are indigenous to Asia, including eastern Siberia and Japan, and have been raised in large numbers because their fur closely resembles raccoon, Pacelle said.
Orlando Veras, a spokesman at Macy's, a division of Federated Department Stores Inc. (FD), confirmed Friday that the retailer had removed the jackets, releasing a statement saying that it has a "long-standing policy against the selling of any dog or cat fur." He continued, "This policy is clearly communicated to all suppliers."
The Sean John jackets — one a snorkel style, the other a classic version — had been labeled "raccoon fur," but were advertised as faux fur, Pacelle said.
In a statement by Sean "Diddy" Combs released by his publicist Hampton Carney, the designer said: "I was completely unaware of the nature of this material, but as soon as we were alerted, the garments were pulled off the Macy's floor and Web site. I have instructed our outerwear licensee to cease the production of any garments using this material immediately."
Macy's removal of the coats comes on the heels of other tests conducted by the Humane Society of the United States on a range of fur-trimmed jackets from retailers such as Burlington Coat Factory, Bloomingdale's, J.C. Penney and Saks Fifth Avenue as well as from designers and clothing lines such as Baby Phat, Andrew Marc, MaxMara and Calvin Klein. Those tests revealed that most of the jackets labeled as "raccoon" or coyote" from China in fact contained fur from raccoon dogs.
Of the 10 garments tested by the Humane Society, nine tested positive as raccoon dog fur and were mislabeled, a violation of federal law.
The Humane Society is also calling upon Congress to amend the Dog and Cat Protection Act — which bans the sale of dog or cat fur in the United States — to include raccoon dog, since the organization says these dogs are so "inhumanely" killed and their species are similar to domesticated dogs.