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California Mulls Sweeping Fur Ban as Anti-Fur Zeitgest Continues

Fur continued to see its stature erode last Wednesday after a bill seeking to prohibit the sale and manufacture of fur across California held its first committee meeting.

Introduced in December by Laura Friedman, a Democrat member of the State Assembly, the proposed law would make the Golden State the first in the nation to establish such a wide-ranging measure. Sponsors of AB44 include the Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation, the Humane Society of the United States and Animal Hope in Legislation, the political advocacy group behind the recent Los Angeles fur ban.

“California is one of the most progressive states in the country and a world leader in animal welfare,” Friedman said in a statement last year. “Given the overwhelming evidence of inhumane practices in the fur industry and the availability of so many different options for warm and fashionable fabrics, we will not continue to be complicit in unnecessary cruelty towards animals solely for the sake of fur.”

AB 44 would make it unlawful to manufacture, sell, offer for sale, display for sale, trade, give, donate or otherwise distribute a fur product in the state, though it exempts certain items, including secondhand fur. The prohibition would apply to fur-bearing products such as clothing, handbags, shoes, slippers, hats and keychains and provide a civil penalty for each violation.

Several cities in California have similar restrictions already in place. Berkeley, San Francisco and West Hollywood have made fur verboten within their limits. In February, the City Council of Los Angeles passed an ordinance on a 13-1 vote to criminalize the sale and manufacturing of all fur-containing products by 2021, the largest city yet to do so. Luxury brands like Burberry, Chanel, Coach, Diane von Furstenberg, Gucci, Giorgio Armani, Hugo Boss, Jimmy Choo, Michael Kors, Phillip Lim, Ralph Lauren and Versace have all fallen out with fur in recent years, as have the high-end e-tailers Yoox Net-a-Porter and Farfetch.

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In what is likely another blow to the fur lobby, Amsterdam Fashion Week (AFW) in the Netherlands announced last week its decision to drop fur following talks with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

“AFW is proud that in collaboration with PETA we will from now on be a fur-free platform,” Danie Bles, CEO of AFW, said in a statement from the animal-rights organization.

The Netherlands has been souring on fur for a while. In 2016, the former world’s fourth largest fur producer passed what was hailed as a “historic” ban on mink farming, which will go into effect in 2024. The same year, Amsterdam opened Europe’s first “fur-free shopping street” after Dutch animal-rights group Bont voor Dieren rallied 19 store owners on the Hartenstraat to make a collective statement about ending the breeding and killing of animals for fashion’s sake alone.

“Today, as polls show, most Dutch people would never wear fur, and Amsterdam Fashion Week’s compassionate move represents the growing public desire for animal-friendly fashion,” said PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk. “Amsterdam Fashion Week has done the right, relevant thing in cutting fur from the event, and PETA looks forward to seeing beautiful animal- and eco-friendly vegan clothing on the catwalks.”

How all this translates into sales remains to be seen, however.

While support for fur appears to be waning in certain quarters, overall demand shows no signs of slackening in countries such as China, where hides and furs conduct the briskest trade. Overall, global fur sales more than tripled from $15.6 billion in 2011 to more than $40 billion in 2015, according to the International Fur Federation. Artificial fur’s market share is growing, too, though it has plenty of catching up to do. London research firm Technavio estimates that demand for faux fur, climbing at a compound annual growth rate of 19 percent, will hit $129.21 million by 2023.