What do a $2000 Gucci purse and a feathered Alexander McQueen gown (seen on Naomi Campbell here) have in common? Besides both being designed by the most coveted fashion houses in the world, both items are currently being held in a warehouse by the US government. In the midst of New York Fashion Week, designers are sending pieces contrived of rare exotic leathers and skins – many of which are on the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service‘s hotlist.

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The News4 I-Team recently did some research on the U.S wildlife protection laws (some of the strictest in the world) and found that imported couture fashion makes up a large portion of all government seizures. “Our biggest thing is to make sure endangered species don’t end up on the shelves at the stores in America,” Naimah Aziz, a USFW inspector lead, told News4 I-Team. The USFW inspectors sort through more than 30,000 shipments a year at the Port of New York to make sure all garments crossing the border come from sustainable sources.

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Watch the video above as Aziz takes the News4 I-Team through the government warehouse where millions of dollars of confiscations are held. Among the seizures are a briefcase made of saltwater crocodile, a rock python clutch and a leather wallet made of sea turtle – the most protected animal in the world. Designer lines like Yves Saint Laurent, Balenciaga and Bottega Veneta sit in the government warehouse and are also owned by Kering, a luxury conglomerate that claims to be one of the “greenest companies” in the world with “100% of its skins and furs from sustainable sources.”

Not everything is as it seems. Are you surprised by these high-fashion government seizures?

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Source: NBC Washington