Jane Birkin tells Hermès to stop making croc Birkin bags

29 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Actress asks Hermes to remove her name from crocodile bag.

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 on Tuesday.

Actress Jane Birkin demanded that Hermes International SCA stop using her name on its bestselling bag after objecting to the way some crocodiles are skinned in the making of the world’s most-expensive tote.Hermes is probing claims of cruelty at crocodile and alligator farms that supply the French fashion house with skins for its luxury handbags and accessories. 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.” 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. 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 said it imposed on its suppliers the highest ethical standards regarding the treatment of crocodiles and for more than a decade, had conducted monthly checks on them to ensure that they were respected.

PETA filmed images of crocodiles in Zimbabwe and alligators in Texas, whose skin is used to make watch-straps, in which they live 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. “Any proven negligence will be corrected and punished,” Hermes said, highlighting that it does not own the farm and that the alligator skins are not used to make the Birkin bag. 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. Customers can obtain one either by putting their name on a waiting list or by paying hefty fees to specialized buyers who scout for the bags on their behalf. 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 $222,000.

The bag has since become a celebrities’ favourite, beloved of Victoria Beckham, Kim Kardashian and characters in the Sex and the City television series, among others. PETA depicted alligators still moving after being shot by a bolt gun, and said some workers at the farm were told to cut into 500 conscious alligators with knives when the gun wasn’t functioning.

The crocodile version, which costs at least €33,000, is one of Hermes’s best-known products, along with its silk scarves and purses named after Grace Kelly. 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. Hermes procures exotic hides in “strict compliance” with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, according to its 2014 annual report. Birkin bags are the company’s most iconic product, accounting for about 15 percent of sales, according to Luca Solca, an analyst at Exane BNP Paribas in London.

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