Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

Jane Birkin removes her name from the iconic Hermès handbag following concerns over "cruel practices"


Since 1984, various incarnations of the handbag bearing her name have broken world records selling at auction for hundreds of thousands of pounds, and graced the arms of too many of the rich and famous to list.

But actress and singer Jane Birkin is now seeking to disassociate herself from the iconic Hermès Birkin, requesting the brand rename the style following concerns about the provenance of crocodile skin.

In a statement released this week, she 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". It is unclear whether the request extends to the versions of the bag made from other materials, such as calf skin.

Animal rights group PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) recently published a video on the exotic skins trade shot undercover on crocodile farms in Texas and Zimbabwe that appears to show crocodiles mistreated and killed inhumanely, and farm staff claiming to supply Hermès. PETA alleges it takes two or three crocodiles to make one of the bags.


Examples of the now-famous Birkin design inspired by Jane

The bag was created for Jane after a chance meeting with the French manufacturer's chief executive Jean-Louis Dumas on a plane in 1981 led to her sketching her ideal design on the back of a sick bag, and it was released three years later.

Jane, 68, recalled in a 2012 interview, "Everything fell out of whatever bag I had, the man next to me said: 'You should have one with pockets'. I said: 'The day Hermès make one with pockets I will have that', and he said: 'But I am Hermès and I will put pockets in for you' [...] And I think I drew it on the sickbag - or the not-be-sick bag. And he said, 'I'll make it for you'."

The bags have become exclusive status symbols thanks to unpredictable releases and small quantities, and can cost up to £100,000 retail (though certain editions have gone for twice that at auction). The most expensive tend to be made from crocodile skin.


Jane pictured in May this year

PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk said in a statement that the group "thanks Ms Birkin for ending her association with Hermès", adding, "We call on Hermès to stop plundering wildlife, factory-farming crocodiles and alligators and slaughtering them for their skins.

“Once, Birkin bags marked people as celebrities or at least members of the super-rich, but soon, no one will want to be caught dead carrying one, and animal advocates will then breathe a sigh of relief".


Victoria Beckham is said to own over 100 Birkins

An Hermès statement meanwhile denied that the crocodile skins shown in the video were used for Birkin bags. A spokesperson told People: "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.”


Jane with ex-husband Serge Gainsbourg in 1970

Images: Rex Features


Traffic 1960 C Norman Parkinson Ltd.  Courtesy Norman Parkinson Archive.jpg

Capital of Cool: new photography exhibition heralds the sixties

2661198 (1).jpg

Young and in love: a look at history's most iconic couples on camera


Alexa Chung's style evolution


Six airport styling tips we learnt from celebrities on their travels


Amal Clooney and Kate Bush top British Style Awards nominations


11 brands that will make you look like a Parisian style icon



How to be a nasty woman: Stylist's 9 step guide

A must-read for all women considering themselves 'good girls'

by Harriet Hall
21 Oct 2016

Totally fetch: Rachel McAdams is on board with a Mean Girls reunion

Shut up.

by Moya Crockett
21 Oct 2016

“Criminalising purchase would be a danger to sex workers”

...argues sex worker and activist, Molly Smith

by The Stylist web team
20 Oct 2016

Eyebrows ahoy... A Cara Delevingne documentary is on its way

The Cara Project will follow Delevingne’s transition from model to actress.

by Moya Crockett
20 Oct 2016

The best A-list Instagrams of the week so far

From Emily Ratajkowski's team colours to Mindy Kaling's scarlet style

by Nicola Colyer
20 Oct 2016

Hilary Swank wins Oscars, still offered 5% of a male co-star's wage

Because woman < man

by Amy Swales
20 Oct 2016

Ellen DeGeneres reveals the secret to her happy marriage

And it's brilliantly simple

by Sarah Biddlecombe
20 Oct 2016

Amy Schumer shares open letter to Donald Trump supporters

“I shouldn’t have said that he was an orange, sexually-assaulting, fake-college-starting monster.”

by Moya Crockett
20 Oct 2016

Little Mix’s Jade Thirlwall opens up about anorexia battle

“I just wanted to waste away and disappear”

by Kayleigh Dray
20 Oct 2016

Kerry Washington chooses old-fashioned name for baby boy

The Scandal star has welcomed her second baby with husband Nnamdi Asomugha

by Kayleigh Dray
20 Oct 2016