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Jane Birkin asks Hermès to remove her name from its bag

The most expensive bag in the world gets disowned by the fashion icon

By Andrea Tim | Published: 14 Sep 2015

Rename the Birkin
Photo: TPG Images; Hermès

[Updated 14 September 2015] Jane Birkin is back in good terms with Hermès, after expressing her satisfaction in how the company responded to reports about crocodile abuse in its farms.

Hermès discovered an "isolated irregularity" in the methods practised by a croc farm in Texas, and threatened to cut ties with the farm if it did not comply with recommended procedures.

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[Updated 31 July 2015] PETA has just bought a share in LVMH, the parent company of Hermès, which gives the anti-animal cruelty organisation the right to attend and ask questions at the luxury label's annual meeting.

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After PETA investigators revealed how crocodile and alligator farms all over the world keep the reptiles in concrete pits before they are "crudely hacked" for their skin, Jane Birkin has requested that Hermès remove her name from its iconic Birkin bag.

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

The actress was the very inspiration behind the luxury accessory, created in 1984. Some versions of the Birkin are made from croc skin and have become the most expensive bags ever sold (the record is said to stand at $432,000, approx. RM1,646,630).

PETA's documentary about the farms shows gruesome images of the reptiles being slaughtered while they are still conscious. "The investigator saw alligators continuing to move their legs and tails in the bleed rack and in bloody ice bins several minutes after their attempted slaughter," said the report. "After the alligators' miserable lives and sometimes slow, gruesome deaths, their skins are sent to France and made into 'luxury' items such as watchbands."

Hermès has released a statement in response to Jane's move.

"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 organised 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 organisation 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."

Related: Ryan Gosling wants chickens to live cage-free


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