Ban fur? Proposal gets under skin of Los Angeles sellers
Activists have praised the citys plan, but local furriers say it will hurt small businesses and do little to help animals
Los Angeless move to restrict the sale and manufacturing of new fur products last week has cheered animal rights activists but has left local furriers feeling bullied.
The issue is highly emotional for those on both sides, with graphic videos from China showing animal cruelty on the one hand, and concerns over the viability of family businesses on the other.
The proposed ban in the second-largest US city comes in the wake of a statewide restriction on the use of plastic straws as well as California city bans on synthetic materials such as styrofoam. Several city councils have also cracked down on new technologies such as electric scooters and home-share platforms in recent months.
Its basically just pushing people around, said Daniel Wachtenheim, whose family has been in the fur business for over 70 years, initiated by his father, who came to the United States after surviving the Holocaust. He said he felt personally targeted, as other animal use industries were allowed to continue operations.
Wachtenheim, who has supplied garments for films and TV shows such as American Gangster, Changeling and Mad Men, and once sold a traditional Jewish fur hat, called a Shtreimel, to Madonna, believes the proposed ban hurts small shops. It reduces the freedom of choice for consumers while ultimately doing little to help animals, since shoppers can simply go online or to neighboring cities, such as Beverly Hills or Pasadena, to buy fur, he said.
Bob Blumenfield, a Los Angeles city councilmember, introduced the fur ban with councilmember Paul Koretz. Its time has come, Blumenfeld said. There is no reason for us to be complicit in the fur trade here in Los Angeles any more.
We are more enlightened at this point, especially in Los Angeles, he said, adding that the vote for the ban was unanimous and came about through a broad coalition of partners.
Blumenfield said that his office tried to look beyond immediate impacts and tried to craft a policy that would work best for our communities while also providing leadership for the rest of the country, given LAs stature economically and otherwise.
PJ Smith, the senior manager of fashion policy for Humane Society of the United States, used more stark terms, saying the fur trade was associated with extreme cruelty, and credited Los Angeles with adding to what he saw as momentum for fur bans, with brands including Calvin Klein, Hugo Boss, Gucci, Michael Kors, Versace and Burberry going fur-free alongside countries and cities such as Norway and San Francisco.