FUR BAN: The first ban on sales of fur merchandise in the nation will go into effect in West Hollywood, Calif., on Saturday. Retailers that continue to sell fur after the ban is instituted will face civil penalties of $200 for an initial offense, $400 for a second offense within a year and $800 for a third offense within a year. An administrative fee of $50 is levied with each penalty. Additional offenses within a 12-month period will be charged as infractions or misdemeanors.

Keith Kaplan, executive director of the Fur Information Council of America, estimated that over half of the retailers in West Hollywood will lose sales as a result of West Hollywood’s ordinance prohibiting the selling, trading, distributing, importing or exporting of any fur product. Among the many clothing stores in West Hollywood are Balenciaga, Rag & Bone, Maxfield, Alberta Ferretti, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Kitson, Kin Los Angeles, Church Boutique and H. Lorenzo.

“As the enforcement date nears, our office has been fielding calls from local retailers. Working with information provided by the West Hollywood city attorney and discussions with city officials, we have attempted to respond to their questions. The questions arise from the numerous ambiguities found in the ordinance itself. In addition, a number of significant legal issues are presented by the ordinance,” said Kaplan, who added that FICA’s attorneys have requested that West Hollywood suspend the ban for now to resolve the ambiguities and will file a lawsuit next week seeking to end the ban entirely.

The ban won’t stop Kitson owner Fraser Ross from displaying high-priced fur items in the windows of the retailer’s West Hollywood locations, and customers can purchase those items in Kitson’s Los Angeles store a block away. “As long as celebrities, their lines and fashion magazines promote fur as a part of fashion, the consumer will always desire it. There is a fine line between being controversial and giving consumers what they want. With our international clientele, fur, as well as leather, remains in demand, even in this heat,” said Ross. Other retailers are supportive of the ban. “We are on board with the ban as we understand the concerns and have realized that there are many other fabrics and fibers that can easily take the place of real fur. We feel that the desire for real fur will lessen over time as more people become aware of the process to which the animals are subject, and I believe more cities will adopt a similar ordinance,” said David Malvaney, co-founder of Church.

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