FTC: Pro-Trump Firm's 'Made in USA' Apparel Made in China

Agency fines Lions Not Sheep, owner $200K for phony labels
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 9, 2022 7:25 AM CDT
FTC: Pro-Trump Firm's 'Made in USA' Apparel Made in China
Where was this item really made?   (Getty Images/makenoodle)

(Newser) – If you're going to put "Made in USA" labels on your products, you'd better make sure they're actually made in the USA. That's the message the Federal Trade Commission hopes to convey to one pro-Donald Trump apparel company that it just fined more than $200,000, after the company swapped out the original "Made in China" tags on its clothing and accessories and replaced them with ones that suggested the attire was crafted here. An FTC release from May notes that Lions Not Sheep, owned by Sean Whalen, sells such items as T-shirts, sweatshirts, jackets, and other accessories, via its own website and on Amazon and Etsy, all with a decidedly pro-America push. "Made in the USA," "Made in America," "100% American Made," and "Best Damn American Made Gear on the Planet" are just some of Lions Not Sheep's claims found online and on its apparel.

Per Axios and USA Today, the company is also known for its pro-Trump and pro-gun stance, selling items with slogans like "Let's Go, Brandon," "Shall Not Be Infringed," and "Give Violence a Chance," showing former President Trump as the Terminator, alongside military-style firearms. But it's the "Made in USA" tags that caught the FTC's attention, with the agency's complaint noting that Whalen even went so far as to make a video in October 2020 in which he bragged about how he could simply rip out the tags showing his products were made in China and replace them with "Made in USA" labels. Some of the clothing was also from other countries, though the FTC complaint didn't name them. In an order dated July 28, the FTC mandated that the company and Whalen must pay a $211,335 fine for its misleading labeling.

The agency also said in its original complaint that the firm must "cease making bogus ... claims" about where its attire is made and "come clean about foreign production." "They must stop claiming that products are made in the United States unless they can show that the product's final assembly or processing—and all significant processing—takes place here and that all or virtually all ingredients or components of the product are made and sourced here," per the release. "Companies that slap phony Made in USA labels on imported goods are cheating their customers and undercutting honest businesses," Sam Levine, head of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, says. Whalen insists in a statement to USA Today that the company has always been "transparent" about where its products are made, and that even though he doesn't like the FTC's decision, it's time "to accept it and move on." (Read more Made in America stories.)

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