Prominent French fashion label Hermès is receiving a lot of media attention lately about its iconic Birkin Bag; but not the kind its used to. Despite years of reigning as the trendy ‘it’ bag of the fashion world, with high profile celebs like Lady Gaga, Victoria Beckham, Kim Kardashian and Alessandra Ambrosia, all photographed sporting one, people are now speaking out against the popular five-to-six-figure bag.
Specifically, the bag’s namesake Jane Birkin has made a public request that Hermès cease the use of her name. The reason? The singer and socialite, now aged 68, said in a statement to the AFP,
“Having been alerted to the cruel practices reserved for crocodiles during their slaughter to make Hermès handbags carrying my name… I have asked Hermès to debaptise the Birkin Croco until better practices in line with international norms can be put in place,”.
After watching the investigation footage that PETA shared on its website (see above), it’s easy to see why she has been moved to take a stand. Horrifying details, like the fact that the crocodiles are slaughtered at around age 3 (living in the wild up to 80 years old) and that it takes three of their lives to craft one of the indulgent handbags, are all revealed in the video. Even if you’re not ready to commit to PETA’s stance on opposing all animal based goods, it’s hard to deny that the cruelty in harvesting the crocodile skin via factory-farming used for the Birkin Croco, is unacceptable and nothing short of appalling.
Despite the incriminating evidence PETA has revealed, Hermès has since responded to the allegations denying knowledge of the grotesque practices and even their association with the farm that was exposed. The fashion house has asserted that,
“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,”.
The Crocodile Birkin Bag has ranked 6th on the world’s most expensive handbags and has waiting lists that even celebs have sat on for years. As the investigations continue and awareness spikes, we can hope that Jane’s demands are enough to close down the unethical suppliers and turn the public’s attention to a cruelty-free fashion statement.
The cost of the fashion world’s current favorite status symbol is more than its upwards of $150,000 price tag; it’s the welfare of living, breathing animals undergoing painful mutilation. PETA and its supporters encourage shoppers to take their money elsewhere and instead support vegan clothing and accessories lines.