Fur ban ignites war-of-words between retailers and animal rights activists

San Francisco votes to ban fur and the move sparks debate over larger issues concerning animal rights and government overreach.
Fur ban ignites war-of-words between retailers and animal rights activists

Animal rights activists protest in 1978. Forty years later, activists battle fur retailers in San Francisco. Photo: iStock

San Francisco’s proposed fur ban made headlines yesterday in nearly every major news outlet from the Washington Post to the Los Angeles Times. Local fur retailers felt the weight of what they consider a classic government overreach, while animal rights activists celebrated the imminent prohibition like Protestant women at a Temperance Union chapter meeting.

The AP reported, “Animal welfare advocates around the world cheered news of Tuesday’s vote, applauding the city for its compassion …”

Hollywood celebrity Alicia Silverstone, voted “Sexiest Female Vegetarian” by PETA in 2004, sent a letter to San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors on PETA’s behalf. ““For decades, my friends at PETA have been exposing horrific cruelty in the fur trade all over the world,” wrote Silverstone. “There’s so much violence in the world that’s beyond our control, but banning fur sales is one easy way to set an example of compassion for the whole world to follow. It would make me even more proud to call San Francisco home.”

The ban, which is expected to go into place January 1, 2019, applies to anything made of animal fur, including gloves, coats and keychains. According to AP News, an amendment added Tuesday allows furriers and other retailers to sell current inventory until January 1, 2020.

That concession did little to temper the outrage of retailers affected by the ban.

Skip Pas is one such retailer. He’s the founder and design director of West Coast Leather, which sells fur products alongside luxury leather fashion apparel. He told the Los Angeles Times the city’s board would serve its citizens far better by focusing on pressing issues such as dirty streets and homelessness. "It's the people of San Francisco who should say, 'Yes, it's too much,'" he said to the Times. "What's next? They're going to say that you can't have beef and you can't have pork and duck in Chinatown?"

Fashionista, an online source of fashion news, cited the recent commitments of major brands like Gucci, Versace and Furla to go fur-free. That means no more fur-lined Gucci loafers for those who can afford a $995 pair of shoes. Instead, those living in West Hollywood, Berkley and now San Francisco — all cities who have or are in the process of adopting fur bans — are arguably sentenced to a sort of synthetic, faux-fur hell, which offers its own variation of an environmentally, unconscionable allegiance.

As Fashionista reported, “Others, like the Fur Information Council of America (FICA), pointed out that faux alternatives to fur are often made of petroleum-based materials that are hardly the most eco-friendly.”

The ban means no more fur-lined Gucci loafers for those who can afford a $995 pair of shoes. Photo: Christian Vierig/Bloomberg Businessweek

Grand View Outdoors wrote about this same irony back in January when FICA launched its campaign. The fur industry’s message points to the paradox of the fur-ban movement. While the animal rights activists pushing these bans might expel one perceived injustice from its communities (the use of fur), by default they’re essentially driving consumers and local economies toward another (petroleum and other plastic-based synthetics).

“Natural fur is the responsible decision when it comes to choosing between fake fur and natural fur,” said CEO Mark Oaten, whose organization, International Fur Federation, initially launched the campaign. “The consumer has been fed a constant diet of fake news when it comes to fake fur. Scientists are telling us that plastic should be eliminated as far as possible from the retail chain. Natural fur is the sustainable alternative. It is natural and provides for decades of use.”

This same premise is at the center of the group's campaign video, "Sustainable Fur." You can watch the video here:


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