Hermes Probes Crocodile Slaughtering After Birkin Complaint

29 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Actress Birkin asks Hermes to remove her name from croc bag.

Hermes International SCA said it will penalize any breach of its animal welfare code after Jane Birkin voiced concern over crocodile slaughter methods in the luxury industry. PARIS — Actress and singer Jane Birkin has asked Hermes to remove her name from one of the luxury goods maker’s best-selling bags due to what she called “cruel” crocodile farming and slaughtering practices. “I have asked Hermes to rename the Birkin Croco until they adopt better practices that meet international standards for the production of this bag,” Birkin said in a statement to the media yesterday (July 28). Birkin said she had signed actor Joaquin Phoenix’s Mercy For Animals petition to “shed exotic skins from your wardrobe” in protest against the “millions of reptiles slaughtered each year and turned into shoes, handbags, belts and other accessories”. Costing tens of thousands of euros, the Birkin bag is a symbol of wealth and is much-loved by celebrities, but the version made out of crocodile skin has attracted the ire of animal rights activists. “Having been alerted to the cruel practices reserved for crocodiles during their slaughter to make Hermes handbags carrying my name…

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, said it had released a video, narrated by Phoenix and which Birkin had seen, showing how live reptiles were skinned or sawed open on farms that supplied luxury brands. Birkin’s statement comes after a report and video by PETA found that “crocodiles and alligators are packed into filthy pools or concrete pits by the thousands – and all are killed for their skins before reaching adulthood”. Birkin bags, the company’s most iconic product, account for about 15 percent of Hermes’s sales, according to Luca Solca, an analyst at Exane BNP Paribas in London. The luxury brand also said that an investigation was being conducted into the farm’s practices and that “any breach of rules will be rectified and sanctioned”.

Hermes procures exotic hides in “strict compliance” with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, according to the company’s 2014 annual report. Hermes said that it’s investigating the Texas farm, which it doesn’t own, and that crocodile skins it gets from that supplier aren’t used for Birkin bags. Customers can obtain one either by putting their name on a waiting list or by paying hefty fees to specialised buyers who scout for the bags on their behalf. The bag has since become a celebrities’ favourite, beloved of Victoria Beckham, Kim Kardashian and characters in the popular Sex and the City television series, among others.

A fuchsia Hermes crocodile Birkin bag with a diamond-studded clasp and lock set a record as the most expensive handbag ever sold at a Christie’s auction in Hong Kong last month, fetching US$222,000 (S$302,950). The crocodile version, which costs at least €33,000 (US$36,000, RM137,055), is one of Hermes’s best-known products, along with its silk scarves and purses named after Grace Kelly. Since then, it’s become so iconic that defacing a Birkin bag has become a pastime for irreverent celebrities, from Kanye West to Lady Gaga and even Jane Birkin herself. The crocodile Birkin and the Kelly bag, named after actress Grace Kelly, are among the most sought-after luxury goods – even though the starting retail price is more than 20,000 euros ($22,096) – partly because shops routinely run out of them.

But the cherished handbags recently became the focus of an expose by rights group PETA on crocodile farms from Texas to Zimbabwe, where the reptiles are allegedly crammed into barren concrete pits before being “cruelly hacked” to death. “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. One does not simply buy a Birkin, which retails for anywhere between $13,000 to $100,000, an interested party must have their name added to the infamous Hermes wait list. Welcoming Birkin’s decision, PETA said on its website Tuesday: “On behalf of all kind souls in the world, we thank Ms Birkin for ending her association with Hermes.” Birkin is perhaps best known as the former wife of late French singer-songwriter Serge Gainsbourg, who penned some of the songs that catapulted her to fame.

The Birkin bags are “franchise builders,” in the sense that “they overwhelmingly contribute to define what Hermes is,” Exane’s Solca said by e-mail. “Many customers purchase other Hermes products to graduate into buying one of these bags, which are not easy to find and build a rarity mystique.” Hermes’s Birkin was created after a chance meeting in the 1980s between former CEO Jean-Louis Dumas and Jane Birkin, who told him what she wanted in a bag after the contents of the one she was using fell out of an airplane overhead compartment, according to Time magazine. “Her comments do not in any way influence the friendship and confidence that we have shared for many years,” the company said. “Hermes respects and shares her emotions and was also shocked by the images recently broadcast.” Verified email addresses: All users on Independent Media news sites are now required to have a verified email address before being allowed to comment on articles. 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.” Spectacles spruiker and American actress Eva Longoria is seeing red over claims made in an Australian newspaper that she is a serial sell-out who does not actually wear glasses. The former Desperate Housewife fired the starting gun on Instagram, blasting Fairfax Media entertainment writer Jenna Clarke over this column which accused Longoria of marketing budget eyewear despite being someone who “doesn’t wear spectacles”. Longoria noted that she first realised her sight was deteriorating while studying for her master’s degree in 2013 and as evidence posted a triptych of pictures of her bespectacled self. “We have plenty of photos to show you of me USING READING GLASSES like when I testified in Congress for Women and Small Business in 2013 as I had to READ some documents in front of me,” she wrote.

Longoria also took the opportunity to deliver a lecture on journalistic procedure, including a dismissive barb at Clarke for being “just a Lifestyle journalist”. “Next time you want to write an article calling someone ‘shameful’ why don’t you do your research because that is your responsibility as a ‘journalist’,” she wrote. The ensuing social media storm invited commentary from Longoria’s legion of fans, including one particularly active young admirer calling himself “Luis Longoria”. In the column, Clarke noted that “unfortunately, this shameful shilling isn’t contained to Hollywood”, and pointed out other examples of celebrities who had signed up to questionable endorsement contracts. Fairfax Media, publisher of The Sun-Herald and this website, added a clarification to the online version of the story, noting that it had been “amended to include Longoria’s statement that she has worn reading glasses since 2013”.

The trans-Pacific tiff came to the attention of other media outlets including Mamamia, Sky News, Mashable and Buzzfeed, all of which published stories on the saga. Best known for her portrayal of Gabrielle Solis on Desperate Housewives, Longoria has in recent years been an executive producer on Devious Maids, a comedy/drama about a group of Latina staff working in exclusive Beverly Hills homes.

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