Jane Birkin Wants Her Name Removed from Beloved Hermès Croc Bag
Birkin herself owns only one "Bloody Birkin."
It’s the end of an era. After 31 years, the classic Hermès handbag with the storied waiting list is losing its namesake, Jane Birkin.
The British actor and singer wants nothing to do with the timeless ‘It Bag’ anymore, after the animal rights organization PETA released a video showing the horrifyingly cruel treatment of crocodiles grown to be skinned for the bag’s material.
“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,” Birkin said in a statement.
The coveted handbag has a price tag that can range from $10,000 to $300,000 for the saltwater reptilian skin version, and rare, vintage versions of the luxury good can also be found at auctions: A fuchsia crocodile-skin number embellished with 18K white gold and diamond hardware sold for approximately $222,000 at Christie’s Hong Kong in June.
Others treat the ultimate status symbol as artworks. In 2014, Jeff Koons turned several Birkin bags, including one owned by Sofia Coppola, into readymades for a charity auction. And Kanye famously gifted Kim a Birkin bag hand-painted by artist George Condo.
According to PETA, it takes two to three crocodiles to produce one such bag. In their recently published reportage on crocodile farms, PETA (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals) revealed that the animals are being “crudely 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,” the organization said.
After news broke out of Jane Birkin’s denunciation of the bag, Hermès released following statement:
“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.”
The iconic bag was famously created after a chance meeting, when Birkin was seated next to Hermès CEO Jean-Louis Dumas on a plane back in 1981. The content of her straw bag had spilled out during the flight, and she remarked on how difficult it was to find a leather weekend bag she liked. And in 1984, the Hermès Birkin was born.
Jane Birkin herself only owns one “bloody Birkin” as she reportedly refers to the bag, which she adorns with protest stickers and beads. She’s on her fourth Birkin bag, as her first three were auctioned off for charity.
“If they can go to a good cause then all the better,” she said in an interview in 2012. “It makes them a rather jolly bag instead of being a snobbish bag. And hang as many things as you can [on it] so it doesn’t look like a bloody Birkin bag!”
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