Two marketers of women’s “shapewear” undergarments have settled Federal Trade Commission charges that slimming claims for their caffeine-infused products were false and not substantiated by scientific evidence. The proposed orders settling the FTC’s complaints bar Norm Thompson Outfitters, Inc., and Wacoal America, Inc., from making false and unsubstantiated claims about their shapewear and require them to pay a total of more than $1.5 million for consumer refunds.
“Caffeine-infused shapewear is the latest ‘weight-loss’ brew concocted by marketers,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “If someone says you can lose weight by wearing the clothes they are selling, steer clear. The best approach is tried and true: diet and exercise.”
The FTC's complaint against Norm Thompson Outfitters alleges the company deceptively advertised, marketed, and sold women’s undergarments infused with microencapsulated caffeine, retinol, and other ingredients, claiming the “shapewear” would slim and reshape the wearer’s body and reduce cellulite. The products, made with Lytess brand fabrics, were sold via mail order and on the company’s Norm Thompson Outfitters, Sahalie, Body Solutions, and Body*Belle websites.
Specifically, the FTC alleges that the company made claims that wearing its shapewear would eliminate or substantially reduce cellulite; reduce the wearer’s hip measurements by up to two inches and their thigh measurements by one inch; and reduce thigh and hip measurements “without any effort.” The complaint alleges that these claims are not true or substantiated by scientific evidence, and therefore violate the FTC Act.
The complaint against Wacoal America contains similar allegations. It charges that the company’s iPants supposedly slimmed the body and reduced cellulite. Specifically, the company made false and unsubstantiated claims that wearing iPants would: substantially reduce cellulite; cause a substantial reduction in the wearer’s thigh measurements; and destroy fat cells, resulting in substantial slimming. The complaint alleges that these claims are not true or substantiated by scientific evidence, and therefore also violate the FTC Act.
The proposed administrative consent orders settling the charges against Norm Thompson Outfitters and Wacoal America ban the companies from claiming that any garment that contains any drug or cosmetic causes substantial weight or fat loss or a substantial reduction in body size. In addition, the companies are prohibited from making claims that any drug or cosmetic reduces or eliminates cellulite or reduces body fat, unless they are not misleading and can be substantiated by competent and reliable scientific evidence.
Finally, the orders require Norm Thompson Outfitters and Wacoal America to pay $230,000 and $1.3 million, respectively, that the FTC can use to provide refunds to consumers who bought the caffeinated shapewear.
Consumers should carefully evaluate advertising claims for weight-loss products. For more information, see the FTC’s guidance for consumers of products and services advertised for Weight Loss & Fitness.
The FTC is a member of the National Prevention Council, which provides coordination and leadership at the federal level regarding prevention, wellness, and health promotion practices. This case advances the National Prevention Strategy’s goal of increasing the number of Americans who are healthy at every stage of life.
The Commission vote to issue the complaints and accept the proposed consent orders was 5-0 in each case. The FTC will publish a description of the consent agreement packages in the Federal Register shortly. The agreements will be subject to public comment for 30 days, beginning today and continuing through October 29, 2014, after which the Commission will decide whether to make the proposed consent orders final.
Interested parties can submit written comments on the proposed settlements with Norm Thompson Outfitters and Wacoal America electronically or in paper form by following the instructions in the “Invitation To Comment” part of the “Supplementary Information” section of the Federal Register notice.
NOTE: The Commission issues an administrative complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. When the Commission issues a consent order on a final basis, it carries the force of law with respect to future actions. Each violation of such an order may result in a civil penalty of up to $16,000.
The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.
Mitchell J. Katz
Office of Public Affairs
David M. Newman
FTC Western Region, San Francisco