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FTC fines Lions Not Sheep over false ‘Made in USA’ claims

By Rachel Douglass


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Image: Lions Not Sheep website

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced it has finalised its case against Lions Not Sheep Products with a fine issued to both the company and its owner Sean Whalen for false claims that its apparel is ‘Made in the USA’.

During its investigation, the FTC said that it had found the brand’s products to actually have been imported from China and other countries, despite labels on the clothing that claimed they were made in the US.

The FTC noted that many Lions Not Sheep products bore labels such as “Are your products USA made?”, “100 percent American made” or “Best damn American made gear on the planet”.

It further alleged that a video posted by Whalen in 2020 saw him state that he could conceal the fact his shirts are made in China by ripping the labels stating the origins out and replacing them with new tags.

The order will require the apparel company and Whalen to pay 211,335 dollars, to cease the use of its ‘Made in USA’ claim and to come clean about its foreign production.

On the Utah-based brand’s Instagram page, Whalen posted a video in response to the ruling in which he spoke on the company’s background and said he wanted to address the “misinformation” that he alleged was spreading online.

He added that his team believed they were in line with the FTC’s policies up until August 2021, when the organisation modified its ruling to require brands to carry out their complete manufacturing process in the US in order to be labelled as ‘Made in USA’.

According to Whalen, he was not aware of the change until six weeks later, when the FTC initiated an investigation against the company.

The owner, who is known to be a Trump supporter, called the FTC’s decision “completely ridiculous” and claimed it was a “political witch hunt” likely triggered by his political views differing from that of the current US government.

He also addressed criticism that he didn’t “fight back”, claiming that he wanted to but it would have likely resulted in a cease and desist that could put him out of business.

In its ruling, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, Sam Levine, said: “Companies that slap phoney Made in USA labels on imported goods are cheating their customers and undercutting honest businesses, and we will hold those companies and their executives accountable for their misconduct.”

Lions Not Sheep Apparel