Merchants in San Francisco’s Union Square district are livid and worried after city lawmakers’ unanimous vote to ban fur.
"Beginning Jan. 1, 2019, it shall be unlawful to sell, offer for sale, display for sale, trade, give, donate, or otherwise distribute a Fur Product by any means in San Francisco," the legislation reads. “'Fur Product' means any article of clothing or covering for any part of the body, or any fashion accessory, including but not limited to handbags, shoes, slippers, hats, earmuffs, scarves, shawls, gloves, jewelry, and keychains, that is made in whole or in part of Fur."
The ban does not impact leather, lambskin or sheepskin products. The legislation also states that “'Fur Product' does not include dog or cat fur products."
Retailers fear for the impact on their business.
“This is big business for us in Union Square,” Karen Flood, executive director of the Union Square Business Improvement District, told the San Francisco Examiner. “This will seriously impact us. Retailers are struggling.”
The Fur Information Council of America is predictably opposed to the measure and is citing environmental concerns.
"In an era when the public is overwhelmingly aware of the environmental and social costs of mass-produced fast fashion the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted ... to ban real fur, a natural and sustainable product, in favor of petroleum-based fake fur, a product that presents serious environmental threats," the industry group said in a statement. "With a ban on real fur, retailers will have to expand their offering of fake fur to meet consumer demand. By inadvertently promoting fake fur this ban may directly contradict the many positive environmental moves the SF Board has taken to establish the city as a leader in addressing the environmental threats posed by plastics and Styrofoam."
Retailers will have until December 31, 2019 to sell any inventory purchased prior to March 20, 2018, according to Supervisor Katy Tang, author of the measure.
"It is estimated that 50-100 million animals are killed each year solely for the purpose of making fashion and accessories," she said in a statement. "More than 85 percent of the pelts in the world’s fur trade come from fur farms, and existing laws require little, if any, oversight of the fur farming trade industries. Compliance with the American Veterinary Medical Association is not mandatory, and fur farms are not monitored by any government agency."
San Francisco's ban follows similar ones passed in West Hollywood and Berkeley.
"San Francisco is the first major U.S. city to pass a ban and has the potential to set off a wave of similar bans across the nation," Tang said.
Charity and second-hand shops aren't affected, but the sale of new fur products will be entirely banned. Under the new law, it'll be illegal to purchase a new fur item elsewhere and have it shipped to a San Francisco address. First-time violations will incur a $500 penalty per item, per day, then a $750 and $1,000 fee for second and third violations.