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New York City Considers Banning Sale of Fur Apparel

New York City may soon make fur verboten across all five boroughs.

At a council general meeting on Thursday, Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan), along with council members Mark Levine (D-Manhattan) and Fernando Cabrera (D-Bronx), introduced a legislation that would ban the sale of fur apparel in the Big Apple.

The proposed law would fine violating businesses between $500 and $1,500, depending on the severity or frequency of the offense. Thrift stores that sell secondhand and vintage furs, however, would be exempt. Officials are also considering adding an exception for religious garments, such as the fur hats worn by some Orthodox Jewish men.

“As an animal lover, I believe it is cruel to kill an animal just for the purpose of people buying and wearing a fur coat,” Johnson, who sponsored a slate of other animal-related bills, including one that would outlaw the non-essential declawing of cats, said in a statement. “In a progressive and modern city like New York, banning the sale of fur clothing and accessories is long overdue.”

Such a move would put New York City in the company of major cities such as San Francisco, Berkeley, West Hollywood and Los Angeles that have rejected fur and fur-containing products. Both the States of California and New York are mulling taking similar action, as well.

“Finally the day has come that city council members see the handwriting on the wall. This is the first nail in the coffin of the NYC fur trade,” Priscilla Feral, president of the Connecticut-based nonprofit Friends of Animals, said in a statement. “NYC can be the ultimate fashion-forward role model by passing this legislation and ending what most of society has come to understand–cruelty is not fashionable.”

Feral said that where once there were 450 fur factories in New York City, just a handful remain. Moreover, a survey by Angus Reid found that 60 percent of Americans consider killing animals for fur an act of cruelty. “Animal suffering and slaughter for the sake of expensive clothing—only affordable to the 1 percent anyway—is over,” she added.

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The International Fur Federation said, however, that hundreds of fur businesses still operate in New York City, including more than one hundred in Speaker Johnson’s district from 27th and 30th streets and along Seventh Avenue alone.

“His bill will shutter a thriving industry with good-paying middle-class jobs for more than 1,000 New York City residents,” Nancy Daigneault, a vice president at the trade group, said in a statement. “We hope Speaker Johnson and the City Council refocus on real issues like addressing New York City’s growing affordability crisis and decaying infrastructure.”

But as Feral noted, the “signs that fur is over” are everywhere—at least everywhere outside of China, where animal fur continues to do booming business. Boldface designers headquartered in the city, such as Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors and Stella McCartney, are all fur-free. Even luxury stalwarts like Burberry, Chanel, Gucci, Giorgio Armani and Versace have dropped fur in recent years.

The Humane Society estimates that more than 100 million animals such as rabbits, foxes and mink are killed each year for their fur. Eighty-five percent come from fur factory farms; the rest are trapped in the wild.