No more Birkin bags

29 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

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

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”. 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”.

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. 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. 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.”

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