A Utah-based apparel company and its owner are facing a hefty fine after the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) accused them of replacing “Made in China” labels on their products with “Made in the USA” labels.
Lions Not Sheep and its owner, Sean Whalen, were slapped with a fine of $211,335 for falsely claiming that their products were made in the U.S., the FTC announced on July 28.
The products were reportedly imported from China and other countries. The FTC first filed a complaint against Lions Not Sheep in May. The company is known for promoting the Second Amendment and Donald Trump through its clothing line sold on Amazon and Etsy and marketed heavily on social media.
In addition to the fine, the FTC told Whalen and his company to “stop making bogus Made in USA claims” and “come clean about foreign production.”
The FTC also noted that “any qualified Made in USA claims must include a clear and conspicuous disclosure about the extent to which the product contains foreign parts, ingredients or components, or processing.”
Lions Not Sheep and Whalen must “ensure that it [the product] is last substantially transformed in the United States, its principal assembly takes place in the United States, and U.S. assembly operations are substantial.”
The May complaint alleged that Whalen published a video on social media on Oct. 8, 2020, with the title “MADE IN AMERICA!” alongside a Chinese flag, claiming that he could hide information about where his products were made by replacing their “Made in China” labels with “Made in the USA” labels.
Between May 10, 2021, and Oct. 21, 2021, the company allegedly removed the tags of its products to replace them with “Made in USA” tags, the complaint noted.
“Companies that slap phony 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,” Sam Levine, the director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said. “American consumers have the right to know the truth about where their clothes and accessories are made.”
In a statement to USA Today, Whalen said that while his company does not agree with the FTC’s ruling, it has “no choice but to accept it and move on,” adding that Lions Not Sheep has been “very honest and transparent” about its business.