PETA — which made headlines during Fashion Week this fall for staging protests at the Coach, Gucci, Burberry and Hermès shows — is now turning its attention to shoes. The group is accusing Ugg of “misleading” clients with “marketing claims” aimed to assure consumers that its animal-based hides, down and wool are “humane.”
On Friday, the animal rights nonprofit organization sent a cease and desist letter addressed to Deckers’ CEO Dave Powers and Ugg’s President of Fashion Lifestyle Anne Spangenberg, asking that the company remove such claims from Ugg’s website. FN had exclusive access to a draft of the letter, which gives Ugg until Dec. 1 to comply with PETA’s requests or face the risk of a complaint being filed with federal authorities by the group.
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“PETA investigations have repeatedly shown the cruelty inherent in the wool, down, and leather industries, yet UGG is seemingly attempting to wash its hands of the suffering behind its products,” said PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman via statement.
In a statement sent to FN about PETA’s accusations, Ugg said, “Our commitment to supporting animal welfare and ensuring the humane treatment of animals is an integral and transparent part of our brand philosophy. For an overview of our animal welfare policies, please visit our Ethical Sourcing & Animal Welfare Policy.“
Ugg’s website states the company’s suppliers “are required to respect and uphold the Five Freedoms, an internationally-accepted welfare standard for livestock. This assures that animals are free from hunger and thirst, discomfort, pain, fear and distress, and are free to express most normal animal behaviors.” The footwear company abides by the principle to “not use wool from mulesed sheep,” and to “only use the by-products hides from animals that were raised for the food industry.”
PETA argues that the company cannot claim to treat animals “humanly” if its suppliers use hide from animals raised for the food industry. The organization also pointed out that Ugg sources its sheepskin from different countries, including the U.S., where no federal laws regulate the care of animals on farms. According to PETA, Ugg also uses facilities certified by the Responsible Down Standard (RDS). However, the nonprofit organization questions the certification, citing RDS-certified farms in Russia and Vietnam that do not follow anti-animal cruelty standards.
Earlier this year, PETA sent cease and desist letters to retailers Quince and Naadam over “humane” claims. Both companies removed them from their website.
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