See you later, gator? British singer and actress Jane Birkin, the force who inspired Hermes’ beloved, classic Birkin bag, has requested that the luxury French brand remove her name from the in-demand, lustworthy purse.
According to Yahoo! News, Birkin has asked Hermes to disassociate her specifically from its crocodile-skin handbag, after learning of how it’s created.
“Having been alerted to the cruel practices reserved for crocodiles during their slaughter to make Hermes handbags carrying my name,” Birkin said in a statement (via Yahoo! News), “I have asked Hermes to debaptize the Birkin Croco until better practices in line with international norms can be put in place.”
The iconic piece, typically valued at around $60,000, includes a hefty wait-list and long list of celebrity fans. One rare pink Hermes crocodile skin bag recently sold at a Christie’s auction for $223,000.
Birkin, the former lover of famous French singer Serge Gainsbourg, inspired the handbag after sitting next to Hermes’ late chairman Jean-Louis Dumas on a flight in 1981 from Paris to London. Dumas witnessed contents from Birkin’s purse falling from the plane’s overhead compartment, and she proceeded to complain about the structure of her handbag.
Three years later, Hermes created a custom-designed bag for Birkin — and it has remained one of the most coveted luxury accessories since its conception.
Her shocking request comes after PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) recently exposed how crocodiles are treated on farms around the world. PETA called out Hermes, specifically, and said it takes about two to three crocodiles to create one Birkin bag.
“At just one year old, alligators are shot with a captive-bolt gun or crudely cut into while they’re still conscious and able to feel pain,” PETA said in its investigation findings. “The investigator saw alligators continuing to move their legs and tails in the bleed rack and in bloody ice bins several minutes after their attempted slaughter.”
PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk lauded Birkin on Tuesday for her request. “PETA, on behalf of all kind souls in the world, thanks Ms Birkin for ending her association with Hermès, which makes grotesque handbags that were revealed in a PETA exposé to be constructed from the skins of factory-farmed and cruelly slaughtered crocodiles,” Newkirk said. “Once, Birkin bags marked people as celebrities or at least members of the super-rich, but soon, no one will want to be caught dead carrying one, and animal advocates will then breathe a sigh of relief.”
Meanwhile, Hermes released a statement to Us Weekly regarding Birkin’s request. “Jane Birkin has expressed her concerns regarding practices for slaughtering crocodiles,” the statement to Us read. “Her comments do not in any way influence the friendship and confidence that we have shared for many years. Hermès respects and shares her emotions and was also shocked by the images recently broadcast.”
The brand is looking into the expose. “An investigation is underway at the Texas farm which was implicated in the video. Any breach of rules will be rectified and sanctioned. Hermès specifies that this farm does not belong to them and that the crocodile skins supplied are not used for the fabrication of Birkin bags,” the company continued in its statement to Us. “Hermès imposes on its partners the highest standards in the ethical treatment of crocodiles. For more than 10 years, we have organized 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 organization for the protection of nature) and with the rules established under the aegis of the U.N.O, by the Washington Convention of 1973 which defines the protection of endangered species.”
For access to all our exclusive celebrity videos and interviews – Subscribe on YouTube!