By Steve Gorman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The city of Los Angeles, a leading center of the world's fashion industry, moved on Tuesday toward becoming the largest U.S. 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 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," Councilman Paul Koretz, a sponsor of the measure, told a news conference before the vote. "We hope that New York City and Chicago and Miami are all 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.
"I can think of one store, maybe two, that sell furs," fashion district spokeswoman Ariana Gomez told Reuters.
While full-length coats of sable and mink may not be as popular as they once were, fur is still found in about 70 percent of the world's latest fall fashion collections, said 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 said.
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" totaled $360 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 also is considering an exemption for products used for religious purposes, such as fur hats worn by Orthodox Jews, as well as for items made from pelts legally taken under the authority of a California fur-trapping license.
The small municipality of West Hollywood, which lies adjacent to Los Angeles, made headlines in November 2011 as the first city in America to ban the sale of fur clothing. The Bay-area jurisdictions of Berkeley and San Francisco followed suit in 2017 and March of this year.
(Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Darren Schuettler)