LOS ANGELES • The city of Los Angeles, a leading centre of the world's fashion industry, is set to become the largest United States metropolis to outlaw the sale and manufacture of most fur products within its limits.
Following the lead of San Francisco and two smaller California municipalities, the Los Angeles City Council voted 12-0 on Tuesday to direct the City Attorney's Office to draft an ordinance banning fur apparel and accessories ranging from mink coats to rabbit's foot charms.
The draft must then gain final approval by the council and be signed by Mayor Eric Garcetti to be enacted.
Supporters said they hoped adoption of a fur ban in the nation's second-largest city, despite its vibrant shopping scene and association with glamour, would lead to similar actions on behalf of animal rights around the globe.
"Los Angeles is one of the fashion capitals of the world, and if we can do it here, we can do it anywhere," said council member Paul Koretz, a sponsor of the measure, before the vote. "We hope that New York City, Chicago and Miami are watching."
Los Angeles is home to one of the largest fashion districts in the world, a hub of some 4,000 apparel outlets, showrooms and manufacturers covering about 100 blocks of the city's downtown, though only a handful of those merchants sell fur products.
While full-length coats of sable and mink may not be as popular as they once were, fur is still found in about 70 per cent of the world's latest autumn fashion collections, said Mr Keith Kaplan, executive director of the trade group Fur Information Council of America.
"If consumers weren't buying it, fashion houses wouldn't be designing it, and manufacturers wouldn't be making it," he added.
He also disputed as "bogus" claims by animal rights groups that methods employed by the fur industry are inherently cruel and inhumane.
The city's Office of Finance does not track fur sales specifically. But statewide retail sales of "furs and fur garments" totalled US$360 million (S$493 million) in 2012, according to a California economic census cited by the city's chief legislative analyst.
Under the plan tentatively approved on Tuesday, a fur ban would go into effect in January and be phased in over two years, giving retailers until 2020 to sell off existing inventories. Used fur products would be exempt.
The council is also considering an exemption for products used for religious purposes, such as fur hats worn by Orthodox Jews, and for items made from pelts legally taken under the authority of a California fur-trapping licence.
The small municipality of West Hollywood, which lies adjacent to Los Angeles, made headlines in November 2011 as the first city in the US to ban the sale of fur clothing.