West Hollywood bans fur sales

A ban on the sale of fur clothes and accessories has been passed in West Hollywood, the first of its kind in the U.S. Photo by Amanda Frank/[email protected]

Animal rights activists are 1-0 against high-end retailers in West Hollywood after the city council voted 3 to 1 to pass the United States’ first ban on the sale of fur.

Last Tuesday’s vote prohibits the sale of accessories and clothing from the pelt or skin of animals with wool, fur and hair. However, the law exempts leather and fur used in furniture.

The ban on fur was first approved unanimously in September 2011 but needed modifications before a final vote. Previous votes were held during two separate council meetings, but after the approval in September, community businesses expressed opposition.

Councilman John D’Amico introduced the ban and said few businesses would be affected. But a report by the Fur Information Council of America (FICA), based in Hollywood, showing the affected number of fur-loving businesses said otherwise.

Keith Kaplan, executive director of FICA, spoke on behalf of retailers like Oscar de la Renta and Marc Jacobs, who threatened to move their companies if the ban passed.

FICA represents fur retailers and manufacturers across the U.S. who as a whole account for more than 80 percent of the country’s fur sales. FICA has 35 board members including CEOs of large fur retailers and manufacturers as well as experts in wildlife management and agriculture.

According to FICA, 91 of the 209 clothing businesses in West Hollywood (46 percent), sell clothing and/or accessories with some type of animal fur.

Mary Kate Sexton, a sophomore in the college of Arts & Sciences from Orange County, Calif., said the ban is a bad idea.

“I don’t think it is OK for government, at any level, to dictate to the people what they are allowed to sell, especially since fur is not even illegal,” Sexton said.

Sexton also believes the ban will have a negative effect on West Hollywood.

“The economy in California is really struggling, and this ban looks like it will cause a loss of revenue for the businesses,” Sexton said. “I’m not sure if stores will leave.Hhowever, the stores will most likely make their feelings known and do the best they can to repeal the ban.”

West Hollywood Mayor John Duran said he does not believe there was adequate information about how the ban would impact businesses that sell fur clothing and apparel. He asked the city to conduct its own economic impact study, adding that he did not trust the one by FICA.

Ben Cundiff, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences from Sacramento, Calif., said he personally doesn’t wear fur, but neither do the majority of the people who live in California. He does not think the ban will be suspended unless there is a strong backlash.

“In the past, West Hollywood’s banned other things — cheap handgun sales, certain types of pet stores … that seem somewhat absurd to ban,” Cundiff said. “And these bans are all still in effect.”

The ordinance goes into effect Sept. 21, 2013.