Jane Birkin orders Hermès to rename Birkin bag
Jane Birkin, the British model and singer who was the inspiration behind the legendary Hermès Birkin bag, has asked the company to rename the fashion staple after reading a report into the slaughter of crocodiles.
With prices ranging from £6,700 (€9,500) to £145,000 (€205,000) and a waiting list of up to six years, 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.
Animal rights group PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) recently published an expose on crocodile farms from Texas to Zimbabwe where the animals are allegedly crammed into barren concrete pits before being "crudely hacked" to death. The campaign group said it takes two or three crocodiles to make one of the cherished handbags.
In a statement issued on Tuesday evening Birkin said, "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".
The bag was created after Hermes chief executive Jean-Louis Dumas was seated next to Birkin on a flight from Paris to London in 1981. After the contents of her straw bag fell from the overhead compartment, Birkin complained to Dumas that she had been unable to find a leather weekend bag. Three years later he created a black bag just for her.
PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk said, "PETA, on behalf of all kind souls in the world, thanks Ms Birkin for ending her association with Hermès, which makes grotesque handbags that were revealed in a PETA exposé to be constructed from the skins of factory-farmed and cruelly slaughtered crocodiles.
“We call on Hermès to stop plundering wildlife, factory-farming crocodiles and alligators and slaughtering them for their skins.
“Once, Birkin bags marked people as celebrities or at least members of the super-rich, but soon, no one will want to be caught dead carrying one, and animal advocates will then breathe a sigh of relief".
Aside from being the muse for the Hermes handbag, Birkin is best known as the former wife of French singer Serge Gainsbourg.