Hermès‘ marquee handbag design has been named after French actress Jane Birkin since its creation in 1984, but as of this week, Birkin would like that to change for at least some of the iconic Birkin Bags. The actress is unhappy with Hermès’ slaughter practices for crocodiles after being alerted by PETA, according to Agence France-Presse.

Details are scant on how Birkin and the well-known animal rights organization got together, but AFP reports that PETA’s investigation into farms that raise and slaughter crocodiles for Hermès bags ranged from Texas to Zimbabwe. The resulting footage, released in June, showed crocodiles being dismembered while still alive and moving.

After viewing the footage, Birkin publicly asked the brand to honor her wishes to distance herself from the crocodile version of the bag for the time being, releasing a statement that said, “Having been alerted to the cruel practices reserved for crocodiles during their slaughter to make Hermès handbags carrying my name… I have asked Hermès to debaptise the Birkin Croco until better practices in line with international norms can be put in place.”

Hermès responded to Birkin’s concerns on Wednesday, according to Women’s Wear Daily, saying in a 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. 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 for the fabrication of Birkin bags.”

Even if Hermès doesn’t take the steps to review its processes that Birkin is requesting, though, she probably can’t force the company to stop using her name in association with the bags. According to the New York Times, Hermès trademarked “Birkin” in 1997.

P.S. Please consider supporting our small, bag-loving team by clicking our links before shopping or checking out at your favorite online retailers like Amazon, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, or any of the listed partners on our shop page. We truly appreciate your support!

Share Your Thoughts With Us

  • Passerine

    Thank you for posting this! FYI, despite the celebrity addiction to this bag, its namesake has only one and she covered it with stickers so that people wouldn’t realize it was a “bloody Birkin bag.” In the same 2012 interview, she also says the bag is “bloody heavy” and “busts your arm” and that due to carrying it “I’m going to have to have an operation for tendinitis in the shoulder.” As the song goes, her Birkin bag opinions fall into the category of “things that make you go hmmm…”

    • Lisa

      If she didn’t like it, why cover it with stickers and carry it instead of NOT carrying it? Not sure this passes the smell test.

      • Sparkletastic

        I had that exact same thought. Sounds like odd behavior.

  • Rachel

    I understand the concern for crocodiles here, but I ended up looking into cow and calf leather, and on a whole it doesn’t seem to be much better. I always thought that cow and calf leather was a by product of the meat industry, but it doesn’t always seem to be the case, especially when it comes to calf leather. I wish there were more environmentally friendly vegan bag options out there. I really like Stella McCartney but I’d love if there was something more classic.

    • Lynne

      Calf leather generally comes from veal calves. The factory farming industry is horrific in general and leather is a byproduct of that industry. I think the reason for the uproar over the use of croc skins (and other skins I suppose) is that those animals are raised for the sole intent and purpose of the use of their skin (there isn’t much of a market for croc or snake meat). However, society will turn a blind eye to the horrific conditions cows and other factory farmed animals endue for the sake of having steak and bacon (and getting a nice leather bag or wallet out of the deal is a bonus). Another consideration is that many of the vegan bags, shoes and other goods on the market are not biodegradable and can be far worse for the environment than leather (both in the process used to manufacture these goods and their being non-biodegradable). Some higher end brands are working to bridge this gap, but it is generally a catch 22. My limit is leather…no exotic skins, furs, etc. for me. And I even sometimes struggle with leather.

      • Rachel

        Yes, it is a catch 22. Sadly many vegan products are just as bad in their own way, like you said. I struggle with leather also.

      • Soozy Luv iz Luxury

        I am the same – I can’t do any exotics or furs either – I also don’t eat meat but figure if leather is a by-product I can accept that as I know most people eat meat. I think it is wonderful Jane has made such a positive stand on such cruelty. It is not the fact they used the crocodile it is the fact they are slaughtered so inhumanely that is horrendous. Same with Python – the snakes are filled with water and cruelly killed. The cruelty is what most of us cannot accept no matter what animal it is.

      • Mary Smith

        Blah. Most vegans have no problems buying clothes made from child slave labor. Or contributing to human suffering in a million ways. So they suck.

        The real solution is to push for better humane practices across the board not to ignore human suffering and focus on cows.

  • Stina Sias

    This makes me so happy, for the $$ they charge for exotics we should at least be assured that animals are sourced with the same responsibility as organic burgers!

    • tim de rosen

      I have already commented extensively in a previous thread so suffice it to say that all of the major brands including Hermes take their responsibility for ensuring that their sourcing of all leathers including exotics is managed ethically and monitored closely on an ongoing basis. Until there is proof positive to the contrary Hermes must be considered innocent of any wrongdoing. Remember that PETA are playing this for as much publicity as possible.

      • Stina Sias

        That is encouraging and I hope you are right! I have never heard that before and videos like this and of the Python trade have made me wary of buying any exotics. Do you have more info on steps designers take to ensure ethical sourcing practices?

      • tim de rosen

        With the exception of Hermes almost all the major designers sub contract production to manufacturers in Italy and Spain. Some rely on their manufacturer to order skins, others such as our company order skins directly from the major tanners and dyers. However, you can be highly confident that well the most known brands are vigilant about maintaining their hard won reputations for adhering to the highest ethical standards. Problems arise from smaller manufacturers in Thailand, China, India and Vietnam who sometimes have less scruples about their material sourcing.

      • Chelsea Girl

        Very true. Its not the big brands I am worried about, its the highstreet brands and smaller brands. If you’d seen that video on youtube of a dog slaughter house in China where they were beating cute little dogs to death with sticks, you will never ever wear Leather again, especially when it says Made in China

  • Good for her! Gemma xx http://www.jacquardflower.uk

  • ruru

    Its one of these subjects that really comes down to personal opinion, theres a lot of cruelty going on that we don’t see even though its stamped “cruelty free” on the product, i don’t buy exotics or furs purely because i don’t think they look nice and its an unregulated part of the industry but i know fine well that the same could be applied to calf leather. i remember reading that Marc Jacob’s faux fur coats contained dog fur which is just insane.

  • melissa

    why do i think that Hermes is lying in their statement?

    • dirtytricks

      I wonder why PETA targets exclusively Hermes, when Louis Vuitton also owns farms and tanneries around the world. Where’s the documented proof that the video was shot at the Hermes-owned facility? Somebody is trying hard to label Hermes as a “bad guy”… hmm… I wonder who would benefit from this bad publicity, except for Louis Vuitton… hmm…

      • Gerry

        PETA targeted much more than Hermes… try go on their website so you can see. Trust me, they are not a group that at all can be manipulated by LV.. LOL

      • dirtytricks

        Gerry, if you can post here a PETA website link where they also target the LV-owned farms, perhaps we can trust you. :-)

    • Erin

      Agree

  • Sparkletastic

    I fully respect that people like PETA don’t feel animals and other creatures should be used for food, medical testing, fashion, etc. That is a moral stance that – while I may have some differences of opinion – I honor and see as logical.

    What puzzles me is those who will accepting killing an animal for this but not that or who will accept killing this animal and not that animal.

    For example, I have a friend who has leather and exotic skin bags but is horrified by my furs. I don’t see the difference between a cow bag, a python bag, and a mink coat from a moral standpoint.

    I’m also puzzled by what is a “humane” way to kill an animal. I absolutely don’t think any innocent creature should suffer. But, I don’t know how you can kill an animal and call it humane because it was well cared for before its death.

    I offer my comments & questions without any real “solution” or hard stance. I’ve learned I can be educated on things about which I’m puzzled or ignorant so I’m posting with open ears and looking forward to comments.

    • Aforallie

      Being a predator, a mink is an intelligent animal and it’s cruel to keep them cooped up in a cage without mental stimulation. A cow can have a decent life if it’s free-range in a herd, and a snake probably doesn’t care where it is, as long is it gets fed regularly. Just my two cents.

      • Mary Smith

        Your use of facts and real science might not have any effect on these people.

    • shopper

      “What puzzles me is those who will accepting killing an animal for this but not that or who will accept killing this animal and not that animal.”

      I agree with you and feel the same. Top end designer fur coats are gorgeous works of art but I can’t bring myself to wear ANY real fur. The thought of the animals being skinned alive (oh god…).
      And yet – I eat meat. I buy leather. I have my eyes on a python bag. I know it seems hypocritical to jump on one bandwagon and not the other but what to do? Its a struggle we all face from different perspectives.

    • As both vegetarian and fashion lover, I only wear leather shoes. No real leather bags/wallets/belts. I know that somebody can call me hypocrite but I can’t help, I love shoes and finding good fake leather shoes is difficult. Also fake leather is quite cold and it’s a problem during winter. But I feel guilty when I buy shoes.

      To me, there’s a huge difference between carrying a bag (maybe made with cow skin) and wearing a fur, but there’s no difference between carrying a crocodile/ostrich bag and wearing a fur; maybe someone will think it differently but this is my opinion. I mean, if you eat a steak you probably don’t mind to wear a leather jacket, but crocodiles/ostrichs/minks don’t have a real market beyond the leather/furs one.

      This is such a difficult subject and I’m afraid it has no solution.

      I understand, for example, that in agritourisms (usually) animals are cared, live free and quite happy and then they’re killed during a certain lunar phase and they don’t realize that they’re gonna die, so they won’t suffer and their body won’t produce toxins (toxic for who is going to eat ther meat). Even if I find this not fair, anyway, it’s a good compromise. I don’t live in the world of dreams, I know that people like eating meat.

      Can I ask you how can you conciliate the fact that you think that you “don’t think any innocent creature should suffer” with your love for furs?

      I appreciate you for being openminded because usually people who wear furs think Peta and vegetarians are just idiots.

      • Sparkletastic

        Thanks so much for your thoughtful reply!

        How do I reconcile my belief that innocent animals shouldn’t suffer with my love for furs? I can’t logically. Any argument I’d put forth would be crazy, have zero logic and be me just trying to justify a choice. When I think of an animal being starved, living in filthy conditions, being scared, etc., my mind revolts and feels horror. But then I can’t resolve that with the fact I’m ok with a “happy” animal being “humanely” slaughtered for steaks, lamb chops or a leather bag.

      • Well, at least you recognize this :) You probably can’t imagine what I’ve been told every time someone found out I was vegetarian!
        I never succeeded in having a reasonable exchange of views with a fur lovers until now.

      • Maria

        Girls, kids are dying in Africa from starvation, in Palestian from Israeli white phosphorus and rockets and no PETA no HRW cares until it has some political paid agenda to it. I saw people living in much worst conditions than those crocodiles, the only difference they didn’t have hermes label on them. The only way is to buy fair trade stuff, boycot any companies, brand associated with violence in those regions, but it’s not that easy and often requires travel and this as “second job” to make sure you don’t contribute to injustice.

      • You’re right but buying from fair trade is very difficult. While I try to buy and eat food that doesn’t come from multinational corporations, when it comes to fashion is much more difficult.

      • Maria

        Because we were raised in generations with this addictions to labels. I once caught myself hesitating to pay 800$ for a hand stitched bag in Palestinian Territories just because well, it’s not my Celine, stitching is not that perfect you know, but then I realized how stupid I am, I took this lady around 3 month to cross stitch large size tote fully with unique pattern if I calculate it at pay per hour then it’s nothing and its unique while any other of my designer bags are worn by thousands of other ladies and you know that “girl to girl” proud smile when you meet someone with the same bag as you.
        I struggle myself with this mentality and you know it takes really a lot of travel to remote places where people don’t even know who Jane Birkin is to at least be able to come to senses.
        Another thing is that is what is unique for us as designer label, really that unique?
        In Russia they sell “Herve Leger” chinese dresses for 100$ and I swear label, stitching, quality of bandage is all the same! It’s called counterfeit here, but the only way I see it’s possible is that man/woman who started that particular fakes was originally working on original Herve Leger’s manufacture or have insider there because it’s not possible to acquire the same material/hardware without knowing what is original. And then it comes to idea that if it costs 100$ to make and both are made in China and paid same salary to workers, then just Herve Leger’s brand takes 1900$ profit for the same dress which is not fair.
        You expect those seamstresses to work in super fashionable offices with high pay and you expect those Hermes crocodiles to be fed foie gras and be prayed to as ancient Egyptians used to do for money we pay for those products, but instead we are fooled while real quality products by local artisans don’t even stand a chance due to marketing.
        In Jordan local designers started making money only after Queen shown up in hand stitched skirt by “some lady” in combination with Chloe blouse on Independence Day. Maybe this is would be good example for Birkin and others who wants to make a change and already “qualified” to choose rather than being chosen by designers.

      • phlox

        re “starving children in africa”
        1) Cruelty exists on a spectrum. It’s not the oppression olympics.
        2) It is possible to care about more than one thing!
        3) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallacy_of_relative_privation

      • Maria

        I apologize that my comment was too long to read, so you could miss the point and make appeal only to few first words, but it has nothing to do with bigger or smaller problems, it’s about PETA and other organizations choosing over one issue because of the political agenda living the rest out of sight.
        The reference particularly was made HRW who yells about kids in Syria just because it’s important geopolitical point to control for US, yet close their eyes on Palestine where the same thing is happening.
        As for PETA, crocodiles are suffering, sure, but it’s only only Hermes, but every single brand that takes skins from those farms are as much in guilt, moreover how about fast food monopolies who tortures chickens? How about Monsanto poisoning water that not only animals die, but humans have poisoning with pesticides? Of cause it’s not on their list and it will never be as they pay too much
        “Got milk? ”
        I have never saw this “ad” outside North America

      • Maria

        Your reply in general reminded me Harper on debates against Mulcair who tried to say to Mulcair that climate change is a problem too, but we discuss issue of security and we need to put all the money to finance spying on our own citizens and create police above the law. The point was made that money wasted on illegal policies and then Canada withdraws from Kioto to increase oil production and cover holes in budget even our coast will be covered with oil and then it will be too late to discuss anything. That’s exactly the point I was making: the other( not bigger or smaller, but other) issues are out of the picture when they don’t bring profit and the problem is the ignoring some of them will lead to vanishing of humans and crocodiles all together. While some groups are noticed in those activities, their judgement can not be taken as objective as many posters noted before in Hermes vs LV comments, again it’s my opinion only and doesn’t have to be right or wrong now, usually time shows the true motives of events.

    • Kagem

      This. I love furs as well and don’t get how someone can wear leather but be ticked off at fur.

  • jacqueline

    My comment isn’t on crocodiles or PETA: it’s about Jane.

    You may all know the story

    “In 1981, Hermès chief executive Jean-Louis Dumas was seated next to Birkin on a flight from Paris to London. Birkin had just placed her straw bag in the overhead compartment of her seat, but the contents fell to the floor, leaving her to scramble to replace the contents. Birkin explained to Dumas that it had been difficult to find a leather weekend bag she liked. In 1984, he created a black supple leather bag for her: the Birkin bag, based on a 1982 design. She used the bag for herself for quite some time until developing tendinitis, switching to other types at that point.” From Wikipedia.

    This Birkin may very well be the last of Jane’s eponymous collection.. She has owned four of the hotly coveted bags and donated the them to be auctioned to charities. Why would she have had four bags that are “bloody heavy” and “busts your arm” and that due to carrying it “I’m going to have to have an operation for tendinitis in the shoulder.”? Maybe carrying so much in your bag is why your shoulder hurts…lighten your load. I would like to know what other bag(s) she is currently using and if they are being overstuffed and causing recurring tendinitis.

    She is also quoted “I always put on stickers and beads and worry beads. You can get them from Greece, Israel, Palestine—from anywhere in the world. I always hang things on my bags because I don’t like them looking like everyone else’s.” She also added, with a touch of Eloise, “A Birkin bag is a very good rain hat; just put everything else in a plastic bag”.

    Isn’t it now the trend to put designer stickers on designer bags? And hang as many designer key fobs on the bag? Oh, and of course, micro designer bags hanging off designer bags. Don’t you personalize your bag “because I don’t like them looking like everyone else’s”

    There is a lot of controversy with PETA/Hermes and Jane’s decision to have her name “removed”. However, there is history behind the idea, creation, and, yes, naming of the Hermes Birkin bag. And this history will remain part of Jane Birkin, Hermes and the Birkin bag.

    • Sparkletastic

      Great post! Thanks for sharing information and background so that we have a fuller perspective on this.

  • Aforallie

    Maybe this bad publicity will cause the price of Birkins to go down. Get out your wallets, ladies!

  • Purse Addict

    ALL VERY POLITICAL! I am sick to death of peta’s far left ramblings and the notion that they can dictate what we should or should not like, next they wil try to dictate what toilet paper you use.

    • Chelsea Girl

      Perhaps if you are an animal who cannot speak, you will appreciate someone speaking up for you. I support PETA, they might be a bit bullish in their approach but until someone else can come up with a better way of explaining why animals should not be reared all their lives just to be killed for one meal or turned into an handbag, then I say PETA should carry on

      • Soozy Luv iz Luxury

        Imagine if Peta were not around to monitor things and bring this to our attention? I can only assume Jane thoroughly investigated it herself before she approached Hermes and made that request to have her name removed?

  • Heated Mouse

    Oh PALEEEEEEEEEEEEEEZE………… a GREAT way to get publicity!

  • Kylee

    I am so tired of PETA spreading their ignorance of ecology to the masses. Hunters play an important role in conserving natural habitats. If wild animals, like crocodiles, white tail deer, wild hogs, etc., were allowed to flourish unchecked they would destroy ecosystems for thousands of other flora and fauna. Then, after consuming everything in their wake, they would starve to death. That would be a horrible way to die. Controlling a population with licensed hunting permits is HUMANE!!

    As far as herd animals are concerned:

    “People need to know cows don’t exist in the wild.”
    ~Neil deGrasse Tyson

    It is a symbiotic relationship. Humans raise them for their resources, and in return the animals continue to exist on this earth.

    Does anyone remember how we turned the American Bison into a food source? They are no longer in danger of becoming extinct.

    • Soozy Luv iz Luxury

      As far as I understood it, these crocs are farmed bred (not wild and culled to keep the numbers down) – and they are living in horrendous conditions from the start in little water and overcrowded for 3 years until they are considered big enough to be useful for a handbag…….so I think the poor crocs dont feel too blessed to live on the earth in those circumstances?

    • Men are destryoing flora and fauna and everything possible on this planet, not crocodiles or any other animals.
      What do hunting permits have to do with this subject?
      Bisons were killed to destroy the main source of native Americans!!

  • I visited one of the crocodile farms (in Cambodia) which I was told Hermes & other designer companies get their crocodile skin from. This one uses all of the animal. The skin goes to these companies to make fashion apparel while the meat & bones goes to China. The lady who co-ran the place explained how they killed them without any emotion in her face, yikes. Guess she’s now accustomed to it it everyday? You can check out what the farms look like here (my blog): http://handbagsandbackpacks.com/2014/07/20/day-15-crocodile-farms-in-battambang-cambodia/

  • Fashionista9

    I am no longer going to buy Hermes

    • notfornow

      Only Hermes? What about Louis Vuitton or any other luxury brand producing alligator/crocodile handbags? Do you think they’re different? Nope, all of them use the same global farming industry with the same methods. So, enough of hypocrisy.

  • Baltimore Bag Lady

    Crocodiles have faces only a mother could love.

    Hermès probably isn’t lying. But it’s just kind of silly on Birkin’s part. I wonder why Birkin doesn’t care about alligators? So-called pony-hair? (I don’t know if Hermès uses that or not, look it up.) They used to use whale skin. The most humane method of animal slaughtering is a kosher way. The animal is killed instantly with no pain. But, this ritual slaughtering is done on certain types of animals meant to be consumed, not worn. But, one of the requirements is that the animal be blemish-free, which would make it a nice pocketbook!

    Personally, I dislike croco- or alligators alive or on a handbag. As to fur? I have my mother’s mink coat which is over 50 years old. She had it restyled and dyed many times. I had it shortened, sheared and made reversible. It is the warmest coat I have ever worn and no minks died for me, or probably, not for my mother, either. Fur, like diamonds, is a gift that keeps on giving. As for my coat, nobody would know it’s mink and I got a cool mink lined raincoat!

    I believe that the gator skins may have been used, years ago, for their, durability. I found an old croc bag that belonged to my grandmother. The skin looks great, but the leather trim looks pretty yuck. It was packed up for years.

    So, I think Jane Birkin is trying to be the next Brigitte Bardot of our time, animal rights-wise, and may be standing up for an animal who really has no friends while alive. Perhaps she should have chosen a lamb or a veal. Those are faces that are beautiful and pure.

    bbl

  • Maria

    I might have different point of view as russian but can anyone explain to me why they have to remove animal’s fur while it’s alive? I grew up in Russian south, I saw animals raised on farms, killed for both meat and leather and fur of cause but I never saw any suffering or weird ways of murder. Pigs are shot, sheeps have throat cut until neck so it dies instantly, so as cows, rabbits are killed by snapping neck instantly so as ferrets, foxes are shot, little bunnies and ferrets and foxes are usually grown as pets with kids. I remember putting doll’s dress on little fox Lusya.
    I came to Canada 6 years ago and that’s when I discovered that manufactures here electrocute chickens before cutting head off and since that time I don’t eat meat. Now i don’t understand why take off skin from alive crocodile… Can anyone explain to me why it’s that big difference? Is it about private farms and huge manufactures? But even from efficiency point of view I think it’s faster to take off skin of dead animal than alive and moving

  • Mary Smith

    PETA is full of lies. I would never take anything they say at face value. They have in the past admitted to faking images and footage.

    While practices should be as humane as possible, PETA must never be taken at face value and should always be investigated.

  • Xxl

    Good to know about Birkin’s stance on the issue! And to all commenters.. I know how yall feel –being an omnivore that knows how to appreciate the quality of high end leather goods and living with perpetual guilt. But seriously, stop buying exotic leather please. #firstworldproblems #thestruggleisreal

  • Kathrin Pfadenhauer

    actually I think this is quite hypocratical and a “I try to catch the PR hype”-thing from her. How comes, that you are not interested how a highpriced bag, carrying your name is made?

  • Kimetta Coleman

    I will buy any bag my money will buy. I will buy a fur and wear it where I please. Everyone have their ‘own’ choices to do whatsoever they please. But no one, absolutely no one, will bully me into believing or fashioning MY life from their viewpoint.

    Nothing that I put on my body or carry on my arm or wear on my feet is more precious than ‘human’ life. Animals, whether reptile or mammal exist in nature just as we humans. They too are to be considered beyond illegal poaching, and should be kept from extinction. We all have our roles to play…if we do this then we have balance overall. And that is what matters…balance.