What an NYC Fur Sales Ban Would Mean for Shoe Retailers

New York City may soon become the latest city to go fur-free.

A bill introduced Thursday by Council Speaker Corey Johnson would make it illegal for businesses to sell fur apparel throughout the five boroughs. A second piece of legislation, introduced last week in the state Assembly, would go even farther, prohibiting “the manufacture, sale, display for sale, trade, giving, donating or otherwise distributing of a fur product,” including fur accessories and accents.

“In a progressive and modern city like New York, banning the sale of fur clothing and accessories is long overdue,” said Johnson in a statement. “Saying no to fur is fashionable and a symbol of progress. This proposal is about protecting animals and their unnecessary killing.”

It remains to be seen whether the municipal law, if passed, would extend to items like mink-trimmed sandals and rabbit fur boots, but recent fur bans in several cities across California offer a glimpse at what could be to come. Last month, Los Angeles’ City Council passed an ordinance that will prohibit the sale and manufacture of products made both in whole or in part with fur, including apparel and accessories, beginning Jan. 1, 2021. (Used furs — or designs made from recycled furs — are exempt.)

The first such ban in the U.S. went into effect in West Hollywood, Calif., in 2013, targeting “wearing apparel,” including shoes, boots, hats and gloves, though not handbags or jewelry. The city’s definition of “fur product” extends to shearling, too, so the sale of Ugg boots and other sheepskin accessories is also prohibited. Berkeley, Calif., and San Francisco passed similar legislation in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

The list of fashion brands that have gone fur-free has also grown significantly in the past several years: Gucci, Michael Kors (including Jimmy Choo), Coach, Burberry, Versace, Ralph Lauren, DVF, Armani, Furla and others have pledged to stop using animal fur in their collections, joining cruelty-free stalwart Stella McCartney. More could be encouraged to join if it becomes harder to sell their products in shopping capitals like New York.

Opponents to the New York City legislation — which would impose fines of between $500 and $1,500 on businesses found to be selling fur — say that banning the trade would cost the city jobs, leave vacant storefronts and force longtime residents to either move or give up their livelihoods. The city is home to 130 businesses that primarily sell fur, employing 1,100 people, according to industry estimates. Advocates also say that animal fur is a more sustainable, environmentally friendly choice over faux fur.

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