OPINION: Banning fur would be bad for New York

BY KAREN GIBERSON | A ban on any fur products is unacceptable. The bill, which was just introduced in late March, is being inexplicably fast-tracked to the hearing stage, which was scheduled for May 15. This does not allow our industry ample time to prepare or accurately study the implications of this decision.

We are baffled why there is a sudden rush to pass this legislation.

If government can pick and choose to eliminate a specific material, then what’s to stop politicians from telling us what else we can’t wear, eat and create moving forward?

As the fashion capital of the world, we must work with textiles and fabrics that our customers are demanding today. Our industry has embraced a variety of materials, including vegan leathers, faux furs and other options that are being developed every day.

That said, calf hair, shearling and fur still play a significant and sustainable role in our designs – from shoes, handbags, gloves and hats, to trim and cuffs on coats.

Peter Noer, a second-generation fur farmer — with his son — who came to Newfoundland from Denmark to raise mink. (Courtesy TruthAboutFur.com)

Fur is already a heavily regulated industry, with rules covering everything from farming and trapping standards to ethics to labeling. The animal byproducts are used in a variety of other products, from the beauty industry to compost and fertilizers.

We encourage everyone to learn more about the process. If you don’t like these materials, you don’t need to use them, to manufacture with them or buy them as a consumer.

New York City is the hub of retail, wholesale, trade shows and commerce for many fashion accessory companies. The ban preventing any sale of these products would cut off one of designers’ largest markets, negatively impacting their livelihoods and those of the suppliers and retail shops they work with.

In all, a recent economic study commissioned by the International Fur Federation Americas found the ban would result in $850 million in lost taxable business revenue and cost New York City 7,500 jobs in the first year alone.

According to a survey we conducted this month of accessory and outerwear companies in Manhattan’s Garment District, more than 90 of the factories there use these materials, making items such as gloves, handbags and outerwear. One of them, Cockpit USA, makes shearling coats for the United States military.

These are specialized experts. If the “fur ban” passes, some of them would need to close their businesses, while others would face significant layoffs.

Let’s be realistic: If the law passes and a manufacturer can’t sell in New York City, the owner has two choices: close up the business and fire all employees or lay off workers and rent space in New Jersey, Yonkers or Nassau County to ship the product. Either way, once again New York City loses much-needed manufacturing jobs — but this time it’s by its own direct action.

Losing valuable blue-collar jobs is not the only unintended consequence of this legislation. Councilmembers have championed environmental issues. In this case, they fail to recognize the negative environmental impacts of synthetic materials.

Most fake furs are petroleum-based and are not biodegrade. One faux-fur coat is the equivalent of thousands of plastic straws.

My biggest concern, however, is that a fur ban would be just the start. Animal-rights activists have made no secret of the fact that their eventual goal is to ban the use of all animal products. If the City Council succeeds in banning fur today, they will next take aim at leather, feathers, wool and silk.

To wear fur, like any consumer product, is a choice. It’s one New Yorkers have been making for hundreds of years and fur is a product that remains in high demand today. It’s not the job of City Council members to legislate away livelihoods simply because fur is a choice some of them wouldn’t make for themselves.

 

Giberson is president of the Accessories Council, a trade group for accessory, eyewear and footwear brands.

14 Responses to OPINION: Banning fur would be bad for New York

  1. Extremists at work here, including council speaker Corey Johnson.

    First furs, then bans on meat, then (who knows what they’ll find objectionable next).

    So called “progressive” extremists imposing their own personal preferences on everyone else.

  2. Meat is murder. Fur is murder

  3. @Anonymous: Meat, leather, fur, and dairy are simply not sustainable, and are part of the reason the climate is changing so rapidly. Yes, we have to tighten up, to ensure that this ol' planet survives us.

  4. I don't wear furs but I don't see how you can really differentiate furs and eating meat, wearing leather shoes or belts etc. Of course that's what will come next from the crazies – ban all meat, get rid of cars, apartments shouldn't cost more than $500 a month. If the animals are tortured then you should work towards improving the manor in which they are killed. It's government overreach. What's most terrifying is that with all these "bold" proposals being put into play, it could re-elect Trump in 2020. No one wants that. Let's be a little reasonable here.

  5. One of the main reasons the climate is changing is that there are simply to many people on this earth. We are destroying many other forms of life on this planet. People should not be allowed to have 12 children.

    On a somewhat related matter, did you know that if you listen closely you can hear a plant / vegetable scream with you cut it ?

  6. One of the main reasons the climate is changing is that there are simply to many people on this earth. We are destroying many other forms of life on this planet. People should not be allowed to have 12 children.

  7. Corey Booker – I don't tell you that you can't be gay. Don't tell me that I can't buy fur.

  8. It's OK though because I eat the meat of the animals killed.

  9. Corey – You don't like it when people tell you no to be gay. I don't like it when you tell me that I can't buy fur.

  10. Vegans make me sick

  11. No one is forced to wear fur. But everyone should be concerned about these misguided proposals to take away our right to make up our own minds about very personal and complex ethical choices.

  12. The fur industry still has a large roll to play in the Science of maintaining a Conservation program that protects species health rather then individuals from a species. The cull of the few protects the many from over burdened populations in the herd or the pack from starvation, contagious pestilence, territorial infighting & more cruel deaths of winter kill & tooth & claw death that can take a much crueler path than a humane kill offered by humane furriers & meat eaters..

    • not THAT guest

      Thank God for the "humane kill offered by humane furriers & meat eaters". It does the heart good to know that there are such enlightened souls among us.

      • not THAT guest

        Just so you know, furrier propagandists, my reply was meant to be sarcastic rather than supportive of your profitable industry.

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