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California caves first as campaign to ban crocodile watch straps bites


Victory! declared PETA, the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals protest movement, as California imposed a ban on the sale of exotic skins in September.

The law states that all products using skins from alligators and crocodiles must be removed from sale on January 1, 2020.

Legislators and animal rights protesters probably had luxury fashion conglomerates houses like Hermès and Louis Vuitton in their sights when the ban was considered, but the watch business has been affected and, according to brands and retailers speaking to WatchPro this week, the process of replacing croc and alligator straps is in chaos.


The use of exotic skins has been controversial for many years, and the fashion houses have been reacting in different ways. Chanel has banned their use outright, while LVMH has stated it will only use exotics from ethical sources.

Selfridges in London said earlier this year that it will ban the sale of exotic animal skins such as alligator, crocodile and python from February 2020.

A major luxury watch retailer in California, who asked not to be named, says he wishes the brands had lobbied the governor of California more effectively, but is now dealing with the consequences of the ban.

The process has not been smooth. “Brands are scrambling to change out the croc straps to calf but they do not have an organized plan. We have to do it because we have been told we cannot even display croc straps from January 1,” the retailer said.

Most brands are swapping the straps for free, but others including Rolex are saying they will buy back watches that cannot be displayed after January 1, but there will be a restocking fee. Rolex’s Cellini and DateJust collections have models that use crocodile leather straps.

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  1. Hi Sam

    Thank you for your article. I am pleased to learn of this victory for an organisation like PETA that advocates protection of animals for commercial purposes. There are other materials we can use in place of animal leather that can provide the same – if not better – quality of products and without harming any creatures.

    I shall go on to share this article to our social media followers for them to ponder on and draw inspiration from.


    Better World Apparel

  2. The Louisiana Alligator Farmers & Ranchers Association, together with American Tanning and Leather and other parties, brought two lawsuits (being handled together as related but not consolidated cases) against California based on a claim of federal preemption on December 12. The initial stage was to seek a Temporary Restraining Order (“TRO”) and a preliminary injunction against the ban.

    At this point, the parties have entered into a stipulation and proposed TRO. f the Court signs the proposed order as submitted:

    1. A TRO will be in place which will prevent California from enforcing the ban on importation for commercial purposes, possession with intent to sell, and sale of certain alligator and crocodile dead bodies, or parts or products thereof to the extent authorized or otherwise permitted under the federal Endangered Species Act or its regulations.

    2. The briefing schedule will be:

    March 13 opposition to the motion for the preliminary injunction due

    April 20 reply in support of the motion for the preliminary injunction due

    April 24 hearing on the motion for preliminary injunction.

    3. The TRO will remain in place until 30 days after any entry of a partial or full denial of the motion for preliminary injunction adverse to the plaintiffs or a final judgment adverse to the plaintiffs, whichever comes first.

    4. If signed, this means that the ban on alligator and crocodile products will NOT be enforced until May 24 at the earliest.


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