West Hollywood To Become First Fur-Free City
Owner Lindsay Lebby said she would lose at least 15 percent of her sales due to the city’s ban on fur clothing sales, which passed 5-0 Sept. 20, before a packed room of supporters and naysayers.
Aside from income, Lebby and other West Hollywood fashion retailers risk losing designer lines because they will be unable to properly represent collections that include fur apparel.
“It’s really unfortunate because my customers want fur,” she said. “The cash register has spoken. They show it season after season.”
Lebby said she plans to move her annual fashion event known as the Autumn Party out of the city. She considers doing the same with her store.
Councilman John D’Amico sponsored the ordinance.
“This item is not about what to wear, it’s not about shame, and it’s not about name-calling,” D’Amico said. “It’s about how we live now… and our impact on the world. This is really the opportunity for our city to lead in a very specific and thoughtful way."
The ban will apply to any garments made entirely or partially from the pelt or skin of any animal with its hair, wool or fur but not leather, according to the ordinance. The animals include foxes, mink, rabbits, bears, seals and chinchillas.
The council acknowledged that people could still buy fur in Beverly Hills and wear it in West Hollywood.
Mayor John Duran called the ban a step in the right direction. Animal advocates were overjoyed.
“It is illegal to sell cat and dog fur in the United States because it was deemed inhumane,” wildlife rescuer Mary Cummins said to a cheering crowd. “For that same reason, it should be illegal to sell the fur of wild animals. An animal is an animal - a living, breathing being.”
West Hollywood previously passed measures to ban puppy mills, the killing of stray and abandoned animals and the declawing of cats.
While many residents declared their support for this ordinance as the next step to promote the city’s cruelty-free policies, longtime resident Ester Ban disagreed, calling the measure “foolish.”
“I don’t think I should be refused the right to buy something with fur because somebody else doesn’t want to,” Ban said. “They don’t have to buy it, but why should they restrict me?”
The West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and The Avenues: Art, Fashion and Design District both opposed the ordinance, calling it “anti-business.”
“This ideal destination for fashion that houses and attracts global brands is now threatened,” said Ryan Farber, executive director of The Avenues.
Forty-six percent of The Avenues' 280 merchants sell some type of fur product, according to the organization’s chair, Darren Gold.
If consumers did not want fur, retailers would not sell it, said Keith Kaplan, executive director of the Fur Information Council of America. The council is headquartered in West Hollywood. Kaplan told the city council that the passage would likely bring significant legal challenges.
Councilman John Heilman said the goal was to educate businesses and consumers so the former don’t want to sell fur and the latter don’t want to buy it. He expressed apprehension with the current ordinance.
“I don’t like fur and I would like us to get rid of it in the city, but frankly, I'm concerned… and I think some further work needs to be done,” Heilman said. “We can do a better job moving forward in collaboration with our businesses.”
D’Amico and city attorney Michael Jenkins announced plans to meet with business representatives this week to discuss implementing the ordinance on June 30, 2012.
The council will hold a second reading of the ordinance at its next meeting to evaluate planned revisions regarding the implementation date, appropriate civil penalties for violators and exceptions for vintage and resale clothing.
Reach contributor Christianna Kyriacou here.