[quote style=”boxed” float=”right”]The only one who needs a mink coat is a mink. -Anonymous[/quote] (ANTI-FUR) CALIFORNIA — Way to go WeHo! Following the temporary ordinance issued last week, Hollywood has officially outlawed the sale of all animal hair, skin, and fur. Hollywood is the nation’s first city to implement such a ban, and officials are hopeful it will ignite a new anti-fur movement.
This progressive city is at the forefront of animal welfare movements, previously being the first city to ban live pet sales. The law is set to take effect June 30, 2012. Read on for more regarding this animal rights victory and how the fur industry is reacting. — Global Animal
USA TODAY, William M. Welch
This proudly liberal city has been out front on gay rights, protection of animals and limits on handguns, and even declared an upcoming “Go-Go Dancer Appreciation Day”. But its latest move has the fur flying in a catfight between animal-rights activists and fashionistas.
A unanimous City Council vote last week to ban the sale of fur apparel has outraged the fashion industry, one of the primary businesses this tiny city, wedged between Los Angeles and Beverly Hills, has worked hard to attract.
A national fur industry trade group is based here, and Melrose Avenue, Sunset Strip and Beverly and Santa Monica boulevards are home to high-end fashion houses, many with fur in their lines, as well as nightspots where fur is flaunted. Business leaders say more than 90 fur-selling retail shops will be hurt, some forced to close or move.
“They’ve worked very hard over the last 10 years to establish themselves as a fashion destination — money and time wasted now,” says Keith Kaplan, executive director of the Fur Information Council of America.
“We’ve become a location that attracts luxury brands from around the world, and their customers,” says Darren Gold, owner of Alpha, a men’s clothing store, and chairman of The Avenues, the city’s designated fashion, design and art district. “This is basically saying that we no longer want those types of businesses to be in our city.”
The ban’s sponsor, councilman John D’Amico, says the city’s tentative approval last week makes West Hollywood the first U.S. city to ban fur sales. He hopes other local governments will follow its example in an effort to stop animal cruelty and the slaughter of animals for fur. The ordinance is to take effect June 30, 2012, though that is subject to change pending final approval.
“This is one small way to have a conversation about how we live in the world,” D’Amico says. “Our little 1.9-square-mile city … has the opportunity to take a stand and make a statement.”
Animal-rights advocate Ed Buck, a West Hollywood resident for two decades, says the city’s vote “is a huge success” for the national drive toward “fur consciousness-raising.”
He points to West Hollywood’s passage in 1996 of a ban on selling cheap pistols, called Saturday night specials, that was copied by other cities.
Since then, the city has passed laws to ban cat declawing, sales of dogs and cats from puppy mills and sales of shark fins. A heavily gay city, it hosted same-sex marriages on the lawn of City Hall on the first day they were permitted by state law.
“This is monumental,” Buck says. “This is a sea change in the movement.”
The ban applies to fur sold as apparel, not as furnishings or other uses. That means some big interior design retailers in West Hollywood won’t have to rid their stores of fur rugs, pillows or chair coverings, Kaplan says.
Genevieve Morrill, president and CEO of the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, says the ban will be devastating for clothing and accessory shop owners and the city’s efforts to lure big-name designers.
A chamber study found that of 197 fashion retail businesses in the city, 46% carry fur products.
She says that as a result of the vote, managers of three large stores in the city are seeking to get out of their leases, one of them with 70 employees.
She declined to name them and said retailers fear retaliation from anti-fur activists if they confront the issue in public. Few store owners agreed to be interviewed and none would be photographed for the same reason.
“West Hollywood wanted to be first, wanted to make news,” Morrill says. “Well, they’re making news. This is absolutely hypocritical for this city. It’s arbitrary — you can sit on it but you can’t wear it. But you can eat meat, wear leather, have silk.”
Lindsay Lebby, director of Arcade Boutique on Melrose, says fur is “a huge fashion trend” and many of her store’s products have fur.
“Every season, these items are among our best sellers,” she says. “Our clients come to us specifically to buy fur. … It really is an anti-fashion-industry statement that the city has made.”
Advocates dismiss such concerns. D’Amico says he doubts the chamber’s study: “This will likely not affect business that dramatically.”
Buck, a leader of Fur Free West Hollywood, says the debate is over, and fur is considered inhumane. “Compassion is the fashion,” he says. “You do not need to sacrifice an animal to be fashionable.”