A move that surprised many, Chanel will no longer produce its highly coveted exotic skin bags

While many have been hoping more design houses will follow suit of Gucci and stop using fur, it was never as widely verbalized by handbag lovers that they’d like to see exotics done away with, after all exotic skin bags are some of the most sought after and highly coveted among them. Many were taken by surprise on Monday when Chanel announced it would no longer use exotic skins.

Chanel made this announcement Monday, saying the problem for them lies with the sourcing of exotic skins not matching their ethical standards. Skins being done away with include crocodilian, lizard, snake, and galuchat and while these exotics don’t make up a large part of overall Chanel sales, it still represents an ultimate holy grail realm for many Chanel lovers. In fact, back in 2009 Chanel opened a boutique between the Encore and Wynn hotel in Las Vegas entirely dedicated to exotic Chanel bags that Vlad and I went into a few years ago.

This will affect collections moving forward, but there are still exotic skin Chanel bags being shown as part of current collections including Chanel’s recently released Cruise 19 collection that we just covered. While many are happy with this news, there is a really interesting Op-Ed on the Business of Fashion explaining how integral the exotic skin business is to many areas and how a ban like this would have a negative impact on those communities.

Many expect and want fur to be banned, but exotic skins on a whole is a new realm for handbag lovers who are used to seeing these skins being used. This move from Chanel makes the Parisian fashion house the largest player in luxury to ban the materials. Many now question if other brands will follow suit. However Kering, the parent company of Gucci, Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, invested in a python farm in Thailand, while LVMH and Hermès operate their own reptile production facilities. Kering has stated it’s close to its goal of sourcing 100 percent of its alligator skin ethically (source: BOF).

We reached out to Chanel for comment about its position on exotic skin use and were sent the following statement:

At CHANEL, we are continually reviewing our supply chains to ensure they meet our expectations of integrity and traceability.

In this context, it is our experience that it is becoming increasingly difficult to source exotic skins (crocodilian, lizard, snake, galuchat) which match our ethical standards.

As such, we have decided to alter our approach and taken the decision to no longer use exotic skins in our future creations.

This is a decision which provides an opportunity to create a new generation of high-end products that respect our fundamentals: the exceptional creativity of our Creative Studio, our expertise, our standards of excellence, noble and innovative materials and exceptional finish.

The move took many in the fashion world by surprise, delighted PETA, and leaves handbag shoppers who are open (and love) exotic skin bags wondering what’s next for other brands they covet. As for Chanel, it will be interesting to see how they plan to use new materials to cater to a void some of their shoppers will feel. If you still want an exotic skin bag from Chanel, this season’s Cruise bags may be your last chance if you don’t want to buy on the second hand market.

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