FoA to NYC: Fur is over
by Fran Silverman
New York City, one of the big four fashion capitals of the world, is considering legislation that would finally Flip off Fur after decades of efforts by Friends of Animals to end the cruelty of the fur industry.
FoA has advocated for the end of the industry for decades through media campaigns including advertisements in Times Square and by introducing draft legislation and meeting with council members to garner support. Our years of efforts paid off when Johnson introduced legislation — Intro 1476 — to ban the sale of fur at a City Council meeting in the spring.
Johnson, whose council district is in the garment industry with fur shops right next to his offices, introduced the legislation at a City Council meeting in March. But Johnson backed off in the face of opposition from the few remaining furriers who inflated the number of jobs they claimed would be lost, Hasidic leaders and the Harlem-based Mobilizing Preachers and Communities, a group of black pastors, who came out against the ban. While the bill was amended to include a religious exemption, and a poll conducted by Mason-Dixon found an overwhelming majority of support for the ban among New York City voters, including among minorities, Johnson has not taken any additional action to move the bill in the Council.
This despite the fact that other cities have gone ahead with bans in the face of opposition, including Los Angeles and, in a historic move, the entire state of California. Additionally, Macy’s, whose flagship store is in NYC, announced it would no longer sell fur, joining hundreds of other retail outlets and fashion designers who have stepped away from the cruel industry.
“In a progressive and modern city like New York, banning the sale of fur clothing and accessories is long overdue. Saying no to fur is fashionable and a symbol of progress. This proposal is about protecting animals and their unnecessary killing,” Johnson told The New York Post when he introduced the bill.
At hearing on the legislation before the Council’s Committee on Consumer Affairs and Business Licensing in the spring, Friends of Animals President Priscilla Feral testified about the cruelty in the industry.
“This is the time you think about moral arguments. To the fur industry, these are throwaway animals whose lives should mean more. It’s important for our humanity to support Intro 1476,” she said.
The signs that fur is over are everywhere. A new poll released in May shows that two-thirds of NYC voters support a ban on fur sales. More than 60 percent of Americans find killing animals for fur amounts to cruelty to animals, according to an Angus Reid survey, and key fashion designers have turned away from fur.
California became the first state to ban fur this year, following city bans in Los Angeles, San Francisco, West Hollywood and Berkeley.
New York State Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal has also proposed a state wide ban on fur in New York.
“Increasingly, consumers are looking to make ethical and sustainable purchases — fur is neither of those,” Rosenthal told the New York Post. “The fur trade has at its core a violence toward animals that is antithetical with our modern views on animals as human companions and sentient beings.”
This fall, Macy’s announced it will no longer sell fur at all of its outlets by the end of the 2020 fiscal year. London’s Fashion Week went fur free and Coach, Diane von Furstenberg and Burberry’s announced they will no longer use fur in designs. Chanel, Coach, Gucci, Michael Kors and Versace also announced this year that their fashion houses would be fur free. In fact, more than 850 retailers have stopped using fur including many New York City-based designers such as Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein and Hugo Boss.
The U.S. fur market is getting smaller. In 2017, global retail fur sales generated $30 billion, with more than half of that from China, according to the International Fur Federation. That’s down from $40 billion in 2014. The U.S. fur market generated $1.4 billion in retail sales, which pales in comparison to the market in China, Europe and Russia.
And New York City’s fur district is disappearing. Where once there were 450 fur factories, now there are just a handful and there is no longer a fur fashion week—all evidence that society’s desire for a product that depends on the slaughter and suffering of animals has waned.
This upswell of anti-fur sentiment is gratifying for FoA, which has been educating the public about the fur industry’s heinous destruction of animals for decades and meeting with New York City and state lawmakers on the issue. And a poll conducted by Mason-Dixon found that an overwhelming majority of New York City voters support a ban on fur and an end to the cruelty.
The New York City bill is cosponsored by Council members Mark Levine, Fernando Cabrera, Justin Brannan, Helen Rosenthal, Robert F. Holden, Brad S. Lander, Daniel Dromm , Antonio Reynoso, and Ritchie J. Torres.
The bill prohibits the sale or offer for sale of any fur apparel except for used fur and any violators would face a penalty of $500 and $1500 for subsequent violations. The ban would take effect 90 days after it became law.
Eliminating the sale of fur products within New York City will promote awareness of the cruelty involved in fur products and create a more compassionate environment. It would follow the tradition of New York City as a leader in animal rights and protection, FoA, which was incorporated in New York in 1957, told council representatives in meetings when it requesting the fur ban.
It would also help promote innovation in cruelty-free vegan fashion. In 2013, New York City-based fashion house Vaute Couture made history as the first all-vegan label to show at New York Fashion Week. Indeed, consumers are turning to cruelty-free fashion with gusto. Vegan fashion is projected to be a major trend, according to J. Walter Thompson’s Future 100 report.
In its NYC2020 study, New York City’s own economic development department called on the city to step out front and be a leader in fashion innovation. Fur-free fashion designers are already turning to sustainable fibers. Hugo Boss, for example, introduced a shoe line made with pineapple fibers.
While the fur industry tries to cast animal pelts in an eco-friendly light, the production of fur adds to climate change and toxic emissions. Fur production has two to 28 times higher impact on the environment than textiles. Each mink skinned by fur farmers produces about 44 pounds of feces in the mink’s lifetime, which adds up to 1 million pounds of feces produced annually by mink farms. The byproduct of the feces, phosphorous, can leach into waterways and contaminate river and stream ecosystems.
Additionally, “wild-caught” fur is no better. A study by Ford Motor Co. researcher Gregory Smith found that fur production from free-living animals requires three times the energy as the production of a synthetic coat when fossil fuels used by vehicles and the equipment used to tan and process pelts are factored in.
“Animal suffering and slaughter for the sake of expensive clothing – only affordable to the one percent anyway – is over,’’ said Feral.
New York City residents can help support the passage of the bill by contacting Johnson’s office, and their council members and telling them to vote yes on Intro 1476. Find your council member here. Speaker Johnson can be reached at (212) 564-7757 or via email at SpeakerJohnson@council.nyc.gov
This video (warning: graphic images used) shows why FoA supports NYC Intro 1476, which would ban the sale of fur.
Share if you agree and contact your council members if you live in the city requesting their support to get it signed into law.