Australian activewear brand Lorna Jane has been fined AUD$5 million for claiming its apparel ‘eliminated’ the spread of COVID-19.

The active lifestyle brand caught the attention of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in June 2020 when it advertised that its activewear was sprayed with a ‘groundbreaking’ substance called LJ Shield, purported to act as ‘added protection’ against viral pathogens – ‘like hand sanitizer but for the clothes you wear’, Lorna Jane said at the time.

The watchdog launched legal action in December for making false and misleading clams.

Now, a judge has labelled the claims ‘exploitative, predatory and potentially dangerous’ – a ruling accepted by the brand, which says it was misled by a supplier – and fined the company AUD$5 million (£2.6 million).

This was dreadful conduct as it involved making serious claims regarding public health

“A trusted supplier sold us a product that did not perform as promised,” says Bill Clarkson, chief executive, Lorna Jane.

“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.”

Commenting from the ACCC, Rod Sims, chairman, says: “This was dreadful conduct as it involved making serious claims regarding public health when there was no basis for them.”

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