Fur Is Not Fashion

Photo courtesy of CNN

Wearing fur is no longer a fashion statement but a crime with civil penalties in the state of California. On Oct. 12, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 44, a statewide ban prohibiting the manufacture and sale of new animal fur products. This makes California the first state in the nation to outlaw new fur sales. The new legislation is one of the strongest animal rights laws in U.S. history as it will protect countless innocent animals in California from the cruelty of fur farms. Additionally, it will hopefully be the spark that ignites other states’ desire to follow and make a commitment to ending fur sales. 

According to the Assembly Bill 44, California residents will no longer be able to sell or make clothing, shoes or handbags from fur by 2023. The period between now to 2023 will allow retailers a sufficient and respectable amount of time to sell off their inventories. Those who violate the law can face a fine of $500 or, in repeat cases, $1000 with each fur item treated as a separate violation. 

The ban does not apply to faux fur, leather, cow hides, deer and sheep skin, and fur products used by Native American tribes or for religious purposes. Retailers can also continue to sell secondhand fur clothing or décor under AB44 as only new fur products will be affected. 

Since Newsom signed AB44 into law, animal rights activists and nationwide supporters of the ban have praised California for its historic decision; however, the state has also garnered criticism by companies such as the Fur Information Council of America (FICA), which is the largest fur industry association in the country. 

FICA spokesman Keith Kaplan expressed his opposition to the ban in a BBC article, claiming that it was part of a “radical vegan agenda using fur as the first step to other bans on what we wear and eat.” 

Banning fur isn’t “the first step to other bans on what we wear or eat,” as Kaplan claims. It’s the only ban that can protect a number of powerless animals from becoming a fur coat in someone’s closet. The thought of wearing the skin of an animal that was treated cruelly and slaughtered for your fashion choice should be enough for you to think twice about fur products. You don’t have to be a “radical vegan” to understand how inhumane and immoral it is to skin innocent animals for the sake of an industry that capitalizes on their deaths.

The CEO and president of the Humane Society of the United States Kitty Block praised California’s decision, “The signing of AB44 underscores the point that today’s consumers simply don’t want wild animals to suffer extreme pain and fear for the sake of fashion.” 

Wearing real fur symbolizes a kind of selfishness that is endorsed, and no one should want to parade that by wearing a fur coat.  Fur coats have become a symbol for an inhumane fur trade that raises animals in filthy conditions and slaughters them solely for their fur. 

According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the world’s largest animal rights organization, 85% of fur industry’s skin come from animals living captive in fur factory farms where thousands of animals are housed in unbearably small cages. These animals end up mutilating themselves out of frustration from living in a cage—biting at their skin, tails and feet. 

The killing methods in fur factory farms, PETA reports, are barbaric and gruesome. Slaughter methods that keep the pelts intact are preferred by the fur farmers who only care about preserving the fur’s quality. These methods all too often result in extreme suffering for the animals. Electrocution, gassing, decompression chambers, neck-breaking and being skinned alive are some of the merciless slaughter methods of fur factory farms. 

AB44 is ultimately a necessary law to help end an inhumane fur trade that capitalizes on the death of innocent wild animals. And if a luxurious fur coat is truly a necessity for your wardrobe, there are ethical alternatives. Companies like Shrimps, a British technicolor faux-fur label, is committed to providing consumers with ethical luxury. Their products are manufactured with the highest quality of faux-fur and with the intent of “leading the conversation on cruelty free fashion.” 

       Photos courtesy of Shrimps 

Brands should demonstrate social responsibility and animal welfare when it comes to their products. Designer brands such as Gucci, Prada and Chanel are contributing to the overall goal of ending fur sales however, there are still many brands like Yves Saint Laurent, Dolce & Gabbana and Dior that have not made a statement to end fur sales. 

Less than two weeks after Newsom signed AB44 into law, retail giant Macy’s, Inc. announced in a press release on Oct. 21 that it will be fur free by the end of the fiscal year 2020. Macy’s overall commitment to ending the sale of fur products and partnering with Humane Society of the United States is a prime example for other major retailers in the country to follow in order to end the inhumane fur trade. 

California’s historical and significant decision to ban the manufacture and sale of fur products is the spark society needs to ignite a sense of agency for other states and retailers to cease fur sales. The anti-fur movement has gone global with countries like Norway and Luxembourg banning fur farming, so why can’t other states in the U.S. say no to fur products? Faux-fur exists for a reason. Innocent wild animals’ lives shouldn’t be exploited for your taste in fashion, and you don’t have to be an animal activist to understand how barbaric the fur industry truly is. It’s simple: killing and skinning animals for fashion is unethical. 


Bernadine Sobingsobing is a third-year English major. She can be reached at bsobings@uci.edu.