The Hermès Birkin, which has been one of the most iconic symbols of wealth and extravagance since its introduction in 1984, may need to find a new namesake; Jane Birkin demands the bag be renamed until Hermès finds a more ethical way to source crocodile skin.
“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 the Hermès Group to rename the Birkin until better practices responding to international norms can be implemented for the production of this bag,” Birkin said in a statement released to Agence France-Presse.
The bag’s origin story is one of serendipity. An Hermès exec was sitting next to Birkin on a flight from Paris to London when she complained of her straw carryon, mentioning how difficult it was to find a suitable leather alternative. Thus the Birkin was born.
Hermès, however, maintains that the crocodile farm depicted in the video Birkin is references does not belong to the luxury brand. They released the 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. 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 Service (a federal American organization for the protection of nature) and with the rules established under the aegis of the UNO, by the Washington Convention of 1973 which defines the protection of endangered species.”
Could this be the end of an era? We’ll always have the Sex and the City episode with Lucy Liu to remember the beloved Birkin.