In 1986, luxury French retailer Hermès gave the world its first glimpse of the bag that would become one of the most coveted, and most expensive handbags of all time: the Birkin bag. Named for legendary British singer Jane Birkin, the bags (which cost between $10,000 and $1000,000) come in calf, ostrich, lizard and crocodile. While everybody who purchases a Birkin bag is aware that once upon a time, it was a living, breathing animal, after Jane Birkin saw a video about how her handbags were made, she no longer wanted her name to be synonymous with luxury.
Last month, PETA launched an investigation into alligator slaughtering practices, and the factories and farms they looked into just happened to be the very ones that do Hermès’s dirty work. A video from that investigation shows several reptiles at a Texas farm who, after being shot with a bolt gun and cut with a knife were left twitching in a bloody ice container until the time of their deaths.
While women who wear fur coats are weary of the organization, PETA does a lot of good, specifically when it comes to reminding us all of the inconvenient truths about the fashion we love. While it’s vaguely unrealistic that Birkin really didn’t know how Birkins were made for almost thirty years, after being contacted by PETA over “cruel” slaughtering practices she was moved to speak out against what she saw.
In a statement obtained Wednesday by Agence France Presse, Birkin said that after “having been alerted to the cruel practices endured by crocodiles during their slaughter for the production of Hermès bags carrying my name, I have asked Hermès Group to rename the Birkin until better practices responding to international norms can be implemented for the production of this bag.”
When contacted by the Associated Press for a response, the luxury brand said the company “respects and shares (Birkin’s) emotions” adding that they were “shocked by the images recently broadcast” and were prepared to launch their own investigation to stop the senseless slaughters.
The question as to what Birkin bags will be called going forward has yet to be answered.