West Hollywood To Ban Sale Of Fur, Retailers Flip Out

Jessica Rubin

Fur has always been synonymous with expensive clothes, elevated style and luxury brands. Mink coats become family heirlooms and fur hats are no longer a matter of warmth but a necessity of style. So how is it that Hollywood, home to some of the most famous shopping streets in America, is working to ban the sale of fur?

Stores such as Balenciaga, Alberta Ferretti and 3.1 Phillip Lim, who have found homes amongst retail hot spots like Melrose Avenue and Sunset Boulevard, are now faced with the threat of unusable merchandise. There is a tug-of-war between ethical groups and retailers, each with separate but equally valid arguments for and against the looming ban.

Shannon Keith, who works with Fur Free West Hollywood, told WWD, “West Hollywood has always been on the leading edge of progressive, compassionate legislation. We are thrilled that this historic first has taken place right here in West Hollywood.”

While this is certainly an admirable leap in the fight for animal protection laws, those struggling to keep their stores afloat in the faltering economy are taking a different stance. Lindsay Lebby, director of Arcade – a luxury store specializing in fur — argues, “Fur items are amongst our bestsellers each fall season. Our clients come to Arcade specifically to buy fur. It is a very important category for us. We strongly disagree with the city council’s ban on the sales of fur apparel.”

The tension between retailers and animal rights activitists is mirrored in the discrepancies within the proposed law itself. The restricted pelts extend to apparel from foxes, chinchillas, rabbits, minks, eels, bears and sheep, but does not cover leather or wool fiber. While fur is certainly more recognizable, the procurement of leather is just as deadly for animals as the use of fur.

West Hollywood’s city council has yet to address the issue of stores that have already stocked fur items for the next few seasons or decide on a punishment for retailers that ignore the ban. It is hard to assess whether this law will inspire other cities to pass similar legislation or if the economic toll and luxury consumers’ love of fur will ultimately make West Hollywood’s efforts fall short.

What’s your take on the newest fight against fur as fashion?