Image: Fendi

Just over a year after Los Angeles became the fourth U.S. city to ban the sale of fur, the state of California will become the first-ever state to ban sale of new fur products. On Saturday Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law Assembly Bill 44, legislation that as of January 1, 2023 will make it unlawful to “sell, offer for sale, display for sale, trade, or otherwise distribute for monetary or nonmonetary consideration a fur product.” The law will also ban the manufacturing of fur product in the state of California as of that date.

“AB 44 ushers in a more sustainable and cruelty-free future for the fashion industry and California consumers alike,” Assembly Member Laura Friedman, who first introduced the bill to the California state assembly in December 2018, said in a statement on Saturday. Governor Newsom called the passage of the landmark legislation a demonstration of the fact that “California is a leader when it comes to animal welfare,” and noted that “today, that leadership includes banning the sale of fur.”

Based on the California State Assembly’s definition of “fur,” the bill bans the manufacture and sale of any product bearing “any animal skin or part thereof with hair, fleece, or fur fibers attached thereto,” with “fur product” meaning “any article of clothing or covering for any part of the body, or any fashion accessory, including, but not limited to, handbags, shoes, slippers, hats, earmuffs, scarves, shawls, gloves, jewelry, keychains, toys or trinkets, and home accessories and decor, that is made in whole or in part of fur.”

Exceptions to the bill come January 2023 will be for “deerskin, sheepskin, or goatskin with hair attached thereto” and “an animal skin or part thereof that is to be converted into leather,” as well as the manufacture or sale of fur products for the purpose of religious purposes, taxidermy, and fur used for “traditional tribal, cultural, or spiritual purposes by a member of a federally recognized Native American tribe or a non-federally recognized California Native American tribe.”

Still yet, the bill specifically states that the sale of “used fur products” does not fall within its purview.

The signing of AB44 by Governor Newsom is being praised by individual animal activists and organizations, such as the Humane Society and PETA, the latter of which is championing the bill’s signing into law as “a historic day for animals in California, including those who have been skinned alive for their fur or skin.” It is certainly less favorable for pro-fur lobbyists and fur-pushing brands, such as Fendi, Moncler,Valentino, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s The Row, and Oscar de la Renta, all of which maintain multiple brick-and-mortar outposts in California, a core fashion market from an revenue perspective not only in the U.S. but on an international scale, as well.

In terms of the fashion industry at large, no small number of brands – from Gucci and Givenchy to Burberry and Bottega Veneta – have sworn off the use of real fur in favor of faux alternatives, which has not come without protest of its own, mostly centering on the fact that faux furs are typically made from synthetic polymeric fibers, such as acrylic, modacrylic, and/or polyester, all of which are forms of plastic that are harmful to the environment.

Meanwhile, CBS notes that California’s statewide anti-fur bill might be the first of many. As of now, “Hawaii and New York, for instance, have introduced similar legislation, and may soon follow Newsom’s lead.”