Jane Birkin withdraws support for Hermes Birkin bag named in her honour

29 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Jane Birkin asks Hermes to take name off crocodile handbag.

BRITISH singer Jane Birkin has asked luxury manufacturer Hermes to remove her name from its crocodile-skin handbag after learning of the “cruel” methods used to make the iconic accessory. 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… I have asked Hermes to debaptise the Birkin Croco until better practices in line with international norms can be put in place,” Birkin, 68, said in a statement.

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”. 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.

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. 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. In a previous response to the controversy over its crocodile-skin bags, the company said all the farms it works with respect the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, and that an audit was underway in one of the farms fingered by PETA. Hermes respects and shares her emotions and was also shocked by the images recently broadcast. “An investigation is under way at the Texas farm which was implicated in the video. 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.

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