The war on fur

Source: Gennady Grachev

By Kat Smith

Despite the vast anti-fur campaign starting decades ago, California has become the first US state to sign a bill banning animal fur products – in terms of both sale and production.

While this move may signify the beginning of the war on fur, the ban on fur sales won’t come into effect until 2023. It is something positive to anticipate, but thinking of another three years of animal abuse for the sake of a fluffy bag or coat trim is not the best mental image. What’s more, leather and some animal skins will still be allowed under Californian law.

There is a societal immunity to the horrors of leather production, just as there had been for meat and animal products until recent years. It is often seen as merely a by-product of meat, and leather has been accepted because of its utility, durability and versatility. The same cannot be said for fur, which connotes glamour and frivolity. Many shoes, belts, car seats and countless other products contain leather, and it’s something many of us deem as necessary or standard. While there is a clear difference between fur and leather in its value to manufacturing and consumer products, this is a dangerous precedent to set. If we are going to wage a war on fur, we probably should not be wearing leather belts and shoes as we carry our pitchforks when the material can be just as devastating for animal rights.

‘Fur’ may be a dirty word for many of us, but the popularity of its inclusion in products shows that the taste for it is still present and being satisfied; from Canada Goose to Balenciaga, many high-end brands are still heavily featuring fur in their products. It’s almost hard to remember that mink is actually an animal and not a material developed for human consumption when it prefixes the word ‘coat’ or ‘scarf’ so often.

It may be said that California’s bill is at least a start, even if it is an overdue and insufficient landmark. But I am concerned for the lack of urgency and I am still shocked that California is just the first of fifty states to do so. And while the UK has banned fur manufacturing, the import of fur goods is still permitted. The annual Fur-Free Friday protest was first held in the US in 1986 and the first Cruelty to Animal Act was passed in Britain in 1835, highlighting how this law was more than a long time coming.

We can only hope that it will create a knock-on effect not only on both sides of the pond but worldwide. 

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