With its five-digit price tag and storied legacy, the Hermes Birkin bag has long been considered a high-fashion status symbol. It is one of the most sought-after accessories on the market—until now, that is. Jane Birkin, the 68-year-old British actress and singer who inspired the original, is voicing her opinion on the alleged inhumane practices used to create the Birkin Croco bag.
“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 in a statement.
The brand designed the Croco bag in 1984 for Birkin. “A young mother at the time, she complained she could not find a bag that was both elegant and practical,” Yahoo! reported. The Birkin Croco, starting at $36,000, is considered one of the world’s most expensive handbags and is a favorite amongst A-list celebrities like Victoria Beckham and Kim Kardashian.
One handbag reportedly takes 18 to 25 hours to make by hand in France, and also comes in ostrich, cow and calf leather. And it’s only natural that PETA chimed in. “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. “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,” it added.
PETA announced on its website, “On behalf of all kind souls in the world, we thank Ms Birkin for ending her association with Hermes.” They also asked Hermes to “stop plundering wildlife, factory-farming crocodiles and alligators and slaughtering them for their skins.”
Hermes has released a statement in response to Birkin’s request: “Jane Birkin has expressed her concerns regarding practices for slaughtering crocodiles. 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.”
Hermes denies that the farm in the report belongs to them and claims the crocodile skins produced are not used for fabricating Birkin bags. “An investigation is underway at the Texas farm which was implicated in the video. Any breach of rules will be rectified and sanctioned,” the spokesperson said.
Between Birkin and PETA, it’s safe to say that the waitlist days for Birkin Croco bags are over.