Masatoshi Okauchi/Rex/REX USA
What's in a name? For Hermès iconic Birkin bag, that may no longer include the 'Birkin.'
After seeing a video of the brand's alleged crocodile skin supplier's cruel animal treatment, actress–singer Jane Birkin—who has lent her name to the coveted handbag for 31 years—is requesting that the luxury retailer remove her namesake from the bag.
"Having been alerted to the cruel practices endured by crocodiles during their slaughter for the production of Hermès bags carrying my name … I have asked Hermès Group to rename the Birkin until better practices responding to international norms can be implemented for the production of this bag," 68-year-old Birkin said.
REPORTERS ASSOCIES/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals—better known as PETA—released a video featuring the horrific slaughtering practices of the crocodile farms that allegedly supply the skins for the Birkin bag (note: the bag also comes in ostrich, lizard and calf leather versions as well) in June. In the now-viral clip, PETA highlights the unimaginable cruel process in which the crocodiles are killed, including hacking the animals to death.
After Jane's initial statement, Hermès was quick to respond:
"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."
"An investigation is underway at the Texas farm which was implicated in the video. Any breach of rules will be rectified and sanctioned. Hermès specifies that this farm does not belong to them and that the crocodile skins supplied are not used for the fabrication of Birkin bags."
"Hermès imposes on its partners the highest standards in the ethical treatment of crocodiles. For more than 10 years, we have organized monthly visits to our suppliers. We control their practices and their conformity with slaughter standards established by veterinary experts and by the Fish and Wildlife (a federal American organization for the protection of nature) and with the rules established under the aegis of the U.N.O, by the Washington Convention of 1973 which defines the protection of endangered species."
First created 1984, the Birkin bag remains one of the most sought-after luxury items on the market. Prices range into the $100,000s, and the wait list that stretches into the timeframe of years. Celebrities also flock to the trim handbag, with an A-list cult following that rivals the Oscars' guest list.