By Elisheba Akalawu
California has become the first US state to make the selling and manufacturing of new fur products illegal. The bill was proposed by state assembly-maker Laura Friedman and signed into legislation by Governor Gavin Newsom. It comes at a time when California and the world are cracking down on animal protection and welfare laws; the selling of fur products has already been illegal since March 2018 in San Francisco and as far back as 2013 in West Hollywood.
The law is to go into effect on January 1st, 2023 but will exclude used fur, taxidermy products, and animal food production by-products such as leather, cowhide, and shearling. Also, any fur products used for religious purposes or by Native American tribes will also be exempt from the ban. For those using new fur in clothing, handbags, and other fur accessories– could find themselves subject to civil penalties and fines of up to $1,000 once the law comes into effect.
This is good news, however, what does it actually mean for an industry where high-profile fur purveyors such as Versace, Gucci, and Jimmy Choo are already taking a stance, by banning the use of fur on and off the runway? It’s hard to say. Although the use of real fur is damaging to our ecological system, the use of faux furs are just as damaging, considering they are usually made up of non-biodegradable plastics, acrylic, and polymers.
This is the argument the fur industry has been using to fire back at the anti-fur movement. Nick Pologeorgis, of the luxury fur company, commented on the fact that “as an industry, we haven’t communicated properly yet what fur is, how sustainable and traceable it is, and [what] a good product it is for the world… fake fur is full of poly fibers and polymers, petrochemicals, plastics. [It] contaminates the waterways, fills the landfills,” and although many designers are revoking the use of the material many of them, like Tom Ford, are skeptical going faux for this same reason, “people think of fake fur as a disposable thing. They buy it, they wear it a few seasons, they throw it away, it doesn’t biodegrade [whereas] a fur coat gets recycled. People wear them for 30 years, they give them to their kids, then they turn them into throw pillows.”
Undoubtedly the ban is a step in the right direction, but it’s just scratching the surface when it comes to conversations around how we can make fashion more sustainable and better for the environment.