Hermès’ Birkin bag is known for its iconic style and hefty price tag, but soon it might be known for animal cruelty, and even called something else altogether. Actress, singer and muse to her namesake bag, Jane Birkin, made a public request for Hermès to stop using her name for those famous bags.
The request comes after PETA released a video and campaign showcasing reptile factory farms in Texas and Africa. The video shows the crocodiles’ dreadful living conditions, where they were bred and killed. The gruesome video also showed the reptiles, still alive, being cut open and left to bleed to death. According to PETA, Hermès uses animal skins from these factory farms for its bags and other merchandise, including the Birkin.
Although Jane Birkin must have known her bags were made from crocodile skin, she no longer wanted her name associated with the brand. Birkin told Agence France-Presse: “Having been alerted to the cruel practices endured by crocodiles during their slaughter for the production of the 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.”
This is bad news for the luxury brand, considering the Birkin is one of the company’s most well-known products, and calling the bags anything else could be consequential.
In response to Jane Birkin’s request, Hermès also released a statement of its own about the situation, sympathizing with Jane Birkin’s feelings on the matter. “[Jane Birkin’s] 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.”
Hermès also wanted to make it clear that the factory farms do not belong to the company. “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.”
Whether this will be enough for Jane Birkin to change her mind has yet to be revealed.