This Brand Claimed Its Clothes Stopped COVID. Now It's Being Fined Millions.
The brand's CEO claims the company was misled, but a judge didn't rule in their favor.
Before COVID vaccinations became available, people all around the world were trying any and everything to protect themselves from the virus, from disinfecting groceries and mail to stocking up on months-worth of toilet paper so they didn't have to go outside. But in this time of panic, others were looking to capitalize on that fear to make a quick buck. Some companies price gauged PPE, others sold non-regulated hand sanitizer, and one brand even claimed its clothes could stop the spread of COVID—and now, it's been fined millions for doing so. Read on to find out what company is having to pay up after misleading customers amid the pandemic.
Activewear brand Lorna Jane was fined for claiming its clothes could stop COVID.
Australian activewear company Lorna Jane has just been fined millions after claiming its clothes could prevent the spread of COVID. The company advertised that its clothing was treated with a substance they called LJ Shield, which they claimed could kill the virus.
"LJ SHIELD is a groundbreaking technology that makes transferal of all pathogens to your Activewear (and let's face it, the one we're all thinking about is COVID-19) impossible by eliminating the virus on contact with the fabric," the company wrote in an Instagram post, according to the prosecution.
Best Life has reached out to Lorna Jane for a comment on the allegations but has not yet heard back.
The company was sued by an Australian regulator.
Lorna Jane was sued by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in Dec. 2020 for promoting its line of LJ Shield Activewear products as COVID blocking. On July 22, 2021, a federal judge ruled in favor of the ACCC and said the company must pay a $5 million fine in Australian dollars ($3.7 million U.S.). The ACCC said that Lorna Jane claimed there was "a reliable scientific or technological basis" for its claims, but the court found that that was not true.
"The whole marketing campaign was based upon consumers' desire for greater protection against the global pandemic," ACCC Chair Rod Sims said in a statement. "The $5 million in penalties imposed by the Court highlights the seriousness of Lorna Jane's conduct, which the judge called 'exploitative, predatory and potentially dangerous."
Lorna Jane's CEO claims the company was misled by a supplier.
Lorna Jane CEO Bill Clarkson accepted the court's ruling and will pay the fine, but he maintains that this was a supplier-based issue. According to Clarkson, the company was misled by "a trusted supplier [who] sold us a product that did not perform as promised," he told the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBB). "They led us to believe the technology behind LJ Shield was being sold elsewhere in Australia, the USA, China, and Taiwan and that it was both anti-bacterial and anti-viral. We believed we were passing on a benefit to our customers."
Lorna Jane has stores all across the globe, including in the U.S.
Over 30 years ago, Lorna Jane was founded by Aerobics instructor Lorna Jane Clarkson, who claims to have invented the term activewear. "Since coining the term Activewear, Lorna has spent three decades learning, evolving, listening and leading the way in product design and the normalization of wearing Activewear everywhere," the Lorna Jane website states.
According to the lawsuit, Lorna Jane has 108 retail stores in Australia, but the activewear brand also has stores in the U.S., New Zealand, Singapore, the U.K., France, the United Arab Emirates, and Malaysia. Stateside, the company has stores in California, Texas, and Washington.
Lorna Jane also sells its products through its online store, as well as through Kohl's.