Fashion Icon Jane Birkin Wants Her Name Removed From ‘Cruel’ Crocodile Handbags

The request to Hermès follows a PETA investigation that alleged abusive farming conditions.

(Photos: Flickr, Pierre Suu/Getty Images)

Jul 29, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Jennifer Swann is TakePart’s culture and lifestyle reporter.

Victoria Beckham has one. Eva Longoria and Maria Shriver are devotees. And Kim Kardashian’s is practically attached to her arm.

But the crocodile-skin status symbols beloved by celebrities may not be known as Birkin Bags for much longer.

Jane Birkin, the British-born singer and actor for whom the Hermès bag was named, has asked the manufacturer to remove her branding from all bags made of crocodile skin. The request comes about a month after People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals released a report alleging that the animals used to make the purses were abused and housed in inhumane reptile farms.

“Having been alerted to the cruel practices reserved for crocodiles during their slaughter to make Hermès handbags carrying my name,” Birkin said in a statement, “I have asked Hermès to debaptise the Birkin Croco until better practices in line with international norms can be put in place.”

According to PETA’s undercover investigation at two farms, one in Texas and the other in Zimbabwe, tens of thousands of crocodiles are confined to dark concrete pits from birth until death, when they’re slaughtered with a captive-bolt gun while still conscious. While Nile crocodiles in the wild can live up to 80 years, the ones held captive at a facility in Zimbabwe were killed for their skins at the age of three, PETA found. Both farms it surveyed supply skin to a Hermès-owned tannery, where it takes two or three crocodiles to make one Birkin Bag, which can sell for upwards of $300,000.

On Wednesday, Hermès responded to Birkin’s comments in a statement published in Vogue U.K.: “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,” the fashion house said. “Hermès respects and shares her emotions and was also shocked by the images recently broadcast.”

It seems bags made from other animals, including cows, ostriches, lizards, and goats, will still bear the trademark Birkin name.