Saturday, November 21, 2009
Oddity of the Moment: Snakes and Sales
I was perusing the famed Proenza Schouler PS1 bag through Barneys' website and saw something so perplexing I just had to ask why.
Upon clicking on the PS1 in python skin, there was a note at the bottom of the product description that said something along the line of "This product can't be shipped to California." I wasn't sure if the New Yorkers at Barneys (hence the name Barneys New York) are vigilantly depriving Californians of some drool-worthy goods, so I gathered my investigative wits to find out why. And, boy, was I mad at the wrong folks.
In 1970, California instituted a ban to selling items made from python as a response to preserving the endangered animal. Consequently, anyone caught trading python-skinned-anything in the Golden State will be slapped a jaw-dropping $5000 fine (which is probably the amount you shelled for a python bag in the first place) or prison. Generally, this law equates python handbags to illegal drugs--as contraband!
The law, however, doesn't state anything about Californians buying their python-made goods out of state, then bringing it back home. Law abiding celebrities, for instance, fly to Las Vegas or New York City just to score their snakeskin fix. Others succumb to anaconda skin as an alternative. The anaconda, known for constricting its prey before feeding, is not on the ban list. Kind of ironic, huh? (NY Times; WSJ)
Currently, California is the only state in the United States that vigorously prohibits the sale of python skin. Next up on the ban list: alligator and crocodile leathers. (About)
Python bag by Proenza Schouler, $4250 at www.barneys.com