WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — West Hollywood is now the only city in America where it’s a crime to sell fur.
The Los Angeles Times reports that after years of debate, the ban on sales of fur apparel took effect Saturday.
It only applies to apparel that’s made to be worn, such as shoes, hats and gloves. The popular Ugg boots can’t be sold because they contain shearling, a sheepskin or lambskin pelt that’s gone through limited shearing. Wallets and purses aren’t banned, nor is leather.
The city calls itself a cruelty-free zone for animals and is famous for animal-friendly laws. Other laws include bans on declawing cats, retail sales of cats and dogs and exotic- and wild-animal performances.
But the fur ban is rubbing some retailers the wrong way. They worry it will affect business and say it runs counter to the city’s claim of being a West Coast fashion capital and the fact that city’s streets include or border so many designer boutiques.
Despite politically incorrect pushback, fur remains a mainstay on the catwalk; sales internationally were at $15.6 billion last year, including $1.3 billion nationally. Retailers with multiple locations worked to move their fur products to stores outside West Hollywood while others tried to get suppliers to take back some of their fall fur coats on order.
“The furs are sometimes the most expensive pieces in the collection, so it affects sales dramatically, especially if you sell it at a larger percentage,” said Darrel Adams who owns the boutique Kin on Sunset Boulevard. “To cut off someone’s big-ticket item makes it hard for a business to survive.”
A retailer caught selling fur can be charged with a misdemeanor if it receives more than three citations within a year. Secondhand stores selling used fur products aren’t affected.
The ban was approved in 2011, and city officials said they sought input from store owners and residents. City officials say the ban is largely symbolic because fur is widely available outside the less than 2-square-mile city’s limits in neighboring Los Angeles and Beverly Hills.
“West Hollywood is a very progressive community that puts a lot of emphasis on social justice and welfare,” Councilman Jeffrey Prang said. “People care about the humane treatment of animals.”