Iconic 1970s actress and model Jane Birkin has asked Hermes, which sells a $13,000-plus handbag named after her, to “debaptise” the Birkin bag, following revelations that the luxury brand uses crocodile leather from farms that have allegedly abused the reptiles.
“Having been alerted to the cruel practices reserved for crocodiles during their slaughter to make Hermes handbags carrying my name … I have asked Hermes to debaptise the Birkin Croco until better practices in line with international norms can be put in place,” Birkin said.
Animal activist organisation PETA took direct aim at Hermes in a video that alleges crocodiles and alligators at farms in the US and Zimbabwe, which supply skins to the company, were subjected to animal cruelty, especially during their slaughter.
Hermes responded to Birkin’s statement saying it respects her emotions and was also shocked by PETA’s findings.
“An investigation is under way at the Texas farm which was implicated in the video. Any breach of rules will be rectified and sanctioned. Hermes specifies that this farm does not belong to them and that the crocodile skins supplied are not used for the fabrication of Birkin bags.
“Hermes imposes on its partners the highest standards in the ethical treatment of crocodiles. For more than 10 years, we have organised monthly visits to our suppliers. We control their practices and their conformity with slaughter standards established by veterinary experts and by the Fish and Wildlife (a federal American organisation for the protection of nature) and with the rules established under the aegis of the U.N., by the Washington Convention of 1973 which defines the protection of endangered species.”
The first Birkin was released in 1984 after Jane Birkin complained to Hermes chief executive Jean-Louis Dumas about her troubles finding a leather bag she liked.
The Birkin handbag retails for between $13,000 to $100,000, on top of a 30-month waiting list. The crocodile skin bags are the most expensive and second-hand bags generally fetch a premium, selling online for more than $120,000.
One recently sold for a record-setting $US221,763 at a Christie’s auction in Hong Kong. Read more on that here.
They may be expensive, but Birkins are far from exclusive, with Hermès reportedly making an estimated 70,000 annually.
The company’s consolidated turnover for the first semester of the year increased 21% to €2.29 billion.
Here’s the PETA video that has Birkin outraged.
*Warning the footage is graphic*
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