Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

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

rexfeatures_255529e.jpg

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.

birkinbags

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.

janebirkin2

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".

vbbirkin

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.”

janebirkin1

Jane with ex-husband Serge Gainsbourg in 1970

Images: Rex Features

Related

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

alduo.jpg

Alexa Chung's style evolution

rexfeatures_4783913d.jpg

Six airport styling tips we learnt from celebrities on their travels

rexfeatures_4197693b.jpg

Amal Clooney and Kate Bush top British Style Awards nominations

hero.jpg

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

Comments

More

Women are to blame for BBC gender pay gap, apparently

“I suspect they let it happen”

by Kayleigh Dray
27 Jul 2017

The best A-list Instagrams from the week so far

From Rihanna's squad goals to Kate Beckinsale's birthday surprise

by Nicola Colyer
27 Jul 2017

You need to read Jennifer Aniston’s epic tribute to BFF Jason Bateman

Find someone who talks about you the way Aniston talks about Bateman

by Kayleigh Dray
27 Jul 2017

Michelle Obama on pain she felt after enduring racism as first lady

Rather than pretending she wasn’t hurt, Obama wants to own her scars

by Moya Crockett
27 Jul 2017

Usher’s Carpool Karaoke with James Corden is most hilarious one yet

The pair’s chemistry is positively off the charts

by Kayleigh Dray
27 Jul 2017

Angelina Jolie diagnosed with Bell’s palsy following Brad Pitt split

‘I cry in the shower, not in front of my children’

by Kayleigh Dray
27 Jul 2017

That viral Tinder couple just met for the first time on live TV

Watch their sweet-yet-awkward rendezvous

by Anna Brech
26 Jul 2017

Men earn more so they can support their wife and kids, says BBC actor

Tom Chambers has apologised for his controversial comments

by Moya Crockett
26 Jul 2017

Why Kristen Stewart and her girlfriend crashed a stranger’s wedding

What were Stewart and Stella Maxwell doing in Winnipeg, Canada?

by Moya Crockett
26 Jul 2017

Chrissy Teigen just got blocked by President Trump on Twitter

This is what she said to push him over the edge…

by Kayleigh Dray
25 Jul 2017