By Quentin Fottrell, MarketWatch
AFP via Getty Images
Americans are not prepared to go naked (or cold) in lieu of wearing fur.
The anti-fur lobby scored a significant victory Tuesday with news that Britain’s Queen Elizabeth will wear fake fur for the first time, according a new memoir of the monarch cited by the Daily Telegraph in the U.K . It’s not a total victory for organizations like the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, however. Queen Elizabeth II will still wear items of clothing made from real fur that are already in her wardrobe, including ceremonial robes.
Angela Kelly, the royal dresser, writes in the book, “The Other Side of the Coin: The Queen, the Dresser and the Wardrobe Hardcover ”: “If Her Majesty is due to attend an engagement in particularly cold weather, from 2019 onwards fake fur will be used to make sure she stays warm.” A Buckingham Palace spokesperson confirmed to the Telegraph that the Queen will forgo her furs: “As new outfits are designed for the Queen, any fur used will be fake.”
California Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, signed a bill into law, which bans the sale and manufacturing of fur in that state. Retailers and manufacturers could be fined $1,000 for violations.
In fact, people appear to be incorporating this luxury item into their all sorts of home comforts — from rugs and furniture to pillows and lamp shades, despite highly successful campaigns by animal rights groups like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) that have included Pamela Anderson, Paul McCartney, Bob Barker, Miley Cyrus and Ellen Degeneres.
Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, last month signed Assembly Bill 44 into law, which bans the sale and manufacturing of fur products in California. Retailers and manufacturers could be fined $1,000 for violations. “California is a leader when it comes to animal welfare and today that leadership includes banning the sale of fur,” Newsom said, announcing the legislation.
That was followed this month by an announcement from Macy’s Inc. /zigman2/quotes/201854387/composite M +3.76% that it would stop selling real fur products at its department stores, which includes Bloomingdale’s, by the end of fiscal 2020.
The California prohibition applies to clothing, handbags, footwear, hats, or any accessories like key chains that contain fur. Each violation carries a civil penalty. The new law exempts leather, cowhide and shearling, plus fur products used for religious purposes. The law also exempts taxidermy products, fur originating from an animal killed by someone with a hunting license, and secondhand fur.
This is the first statewide fur ban in the U.S., but it follows the cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles, which separately announced last year that they’re banning the sale of animal fur products . The anti-fur movement has also gone global: Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Norway, Luxembourg and Serbia, among others, have banned fur farming.
The fur industry, unsurprisingly, reacted swiftly to the news of California’s fur ban. “Governor Newsom has now made California the first state in the nation to abolish a centuries-old, lawful, highly regulated, job-producing, environmentally sound, tax-paying industry,” according to the Fur Council of America, an industry trade group.
U.S. manufacturer fur sales hit $531 million last year, reaching a 17-year high, according to Euromonitor International.
“He has failed to recognize the human toll here resulting from the government forcing these businesses to close with no compensation to the business owners. They will lose generations of investment [and] their livelihoods will be cut off and for many in long-term lease agreements.”
“Their staffs, many of them highly skilled craftsmen, will join the ranks of the unemployed, unlikely to find work at similar wage levels,” it added. “To be sure, it is the stuff of legacy, just not the legacy any other chief executive would want.”
U.S. manufacturer fur sales hit $531 million last year , reaching a 17-year high, according to the market-research firm Euromonitor International.
But it’s not all fur hats, gloves and coats. Spending on fur by the furniture industry, has risen by roughly 2% annually in recent year as a chair covering and in other soft furnishings. An investigation by National Geographic earlier this month suggested that many people have turned a blind eye to graphic images of animals kept captive in industrial-scale fur farms.
Fur farms dominate the trade, and production has more than doubled since the 1990s, to about 100 million skins last year, mostly mink and some fox,” it found . “Trappers typically add millions of wild beaver, coyote, raccoon, muskrat and other skins. That’s besides untold millions of cattle, lambs, rabbits, ostriches, crocodiles, alligators and caimans harvested for food as well as skins.”
In the U.S, fur is still being used by some of the biggest fashion designers in the world and sold by America’s most exclusive department stores, although it does not come cheap.
Industrialization has made the problem even more acute for both the animals and those who want to ban fur farming and trapping. “Like pig or chicken farming, fur farming is about keeping animals in captivity their entire lives and then killing them. It entails practices many people would consider unthinkable. Some fox farmers, for example, kill their animals by anal electrocution. It’s supposedly the quickest practical method,” National Geographic added.
In the U.S., however, fur is still being used by some of the biggest fashion designers and sold — for now at least— at the most exclusive department stores, although it does not come cheap. Fur coats cost $24,900 for a belted mink coat by The Row at Bergdorf Goodman or $30,500 for a mink coat with crystal embroidery by Oscar de la Renta at Neiman Marcus. There’s also a brisk market in pre-owned, professionally appraised furs on sites such as EstateFurs .
In announcing its upcoming fur ban, Macy’s said last month that it has had regular conversations with the Humane Society and other groups, and noted that improvements in fabric technologies such as faux fur should make the transition easier, the Associated Press reported. New York City and state are also mulling similar bans on the manufacture and sale of fur.
PETA, meanwhile, applauded Newsom for introducing a statewide fur ban. “PETA pushed hard and thousands of our supporters wrote to their representatives in support of the ban,” it said. “This lifesaving measure will prevent animals from being beaten, electrocuted, and skinned alive for environmentally toxic items that compassionate shoppers no longer want and top designers no longer use.”
The latest move away from animal fur in the U.K., due in large part to shifting public opinion, is not insignificant. Anna Wintour, the editor of U.S. Vogue, writes of the Queen’s style in an official endorsement of Kelly’s memoir: “For the nearly seven decades of her reign, Her Majesty The Queen has used clothing to create a powerful visual identity that transcends fashion and has made her perhaps the most readily identifiable person on the planet.”