The debate over fur in fashion is heating up as news hits that a federal court have held up a ban on fashion retailers selling animal fur in West Hollywood. The area’s city council brought the law in back in 2011 and it came into force last year. Fashion retailers found to be selling fur are subject to a fine of $200 for the first offence, $400 for the second offence, and $800 for a third offence. Each fine is also subject to a $50 administrative fee for each offence. As you might expect, the law has been the subject of much controversy.
The law was challenged by accessories boutique Mayfair House as unconstitutional. Although unsuccessful, an appeal is already on the cards. “It’s not over yet,” Elizabeth Solomon, a spokeswoman for Mayfair House, told WWD. “We are surrounded by home design stores that sell fur chairs and fur rugs. That is where the issue is. Why is this just directed to apparel? Just be fair and apply it across the board.”
In his ruling, U.S. District Judge George H. King in Los Angeles stated that the ban doesn’t illegally discriminate against retailers of new clothing by allowing sales of used fur by private parties and second-hand stores as well as sales of furniture with fur.
“That the city did not choose to completely ban the sale of fur does not interfere with its goal of promoting the humane treatment of animals. The city is free to make incremental change, rather than adopt an entire ban on the sale of fur at once.”
Fur sales suffered dramatic falls in the 1990s with supermodels like Naomi Campbell announcing they’d “rather go naked than wear fur” (only to turn up at a party in a sable coat a short time later – classic Campbell.) However, we’ve seen an explosion of fur on the catwalks in recent years with everyone from Marni to Joseph Altuzarra showing fur in their autumn/winter collections. And, according to Charles Ross,Head of International Marketing for Saga Furs, “this is almost the golden age in the fur industry – our skin prices are going up 20-30% every year.” Saga’s fur auction house in Finland supplies fox, mink and raccoon fur to more than 400 brands, many of which show at fashion week. The message is clear -fur is back in favour with the fashion pack.
Opponents like PETA call the use of fur barbaric and cruel but supporters claim it’s natural and sustainable. Nonetheless, here in the UK, retail giants like Harvey Nichols that had previously implemented a decade long ban on fur in the luxury department store, have in the last year stocked clothes trimmed with fox, rabbit and raccoon fur. We can only presume this was due to consumer demand and in response to a fashion week where 70% of designers showed fur.
PETA state that “95 per cent of the British public would never wear real fur and rightly regard the industry as one of the most violent, bloody and barbaric on the planet”. But is this accurate? Would 95% of the British public really refuse to wear fur? We’re skeptical as to where they got these figures. What do you think – is real fur inhumane and unacceptable? Or would you happily don a full length white mink a la Alexis Carrington circa 1985?