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.