UPDATE: On July 24th, one month after PETA released video showing crocodiles and alligators used to make Birkin bags being tortured, British singer Jane Birkin has asked Hermès to remove her name from the line of handbags: “Having been alerted to the cruel practices reserved for crocodiles during their slaughter to make Hermes 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.”
In 2001, a NY Times fashion writer reported that Jessica Seinfeld, the wife of comedian Jerry Seinfeld, attempted to use her famous last name at an Hermès store to jump to the front of a waiting list for a Birkin Bag, a purse regarded by many as the ultimate status symbol. Ms. Seinfeld, exasperated by negative stories written about her in gossip columns, denied the allegations in subsequent media coverage. Lost in the celebrity scandal were the real victims: the alligators and crocodiles who are raised and slaughtered in concrete factories to make the purses.
In 2014, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) sent undercover investigators into factories in Zimbabwe and Texas that supply Hermes with their crocodiles and alligators. Video footage shows employees cutting into their bodies while they are fully conscious, sawing into the back of their necks with a box cutter to sever their blood vessels and stabbing them in an attempt to dislocate their vertebrae during the drawn-out slaughter process. Investigators documented crocodiles bleeding out and writhing in agony for several minutes.
The undercover investigation also revealed the conditions in which the alligators and crocodiles are housed. In the wild, these intelligent animals raise their young, use tools to capture their prey and live for decades, often longer than humans. On factory farms, the crocodiles are intensively confined in concrete pits, forced to live in pools of their own excrement and denied the chance to do anything that comes naturally to them. They are slaughtered after just one year.
Hermès suppliers slaughter up to four alligators to make just one Birkin bag. The skins are also used to make watchbands, belts, shoes and other accessories.
In a statement included in the NY Times story about the PETA investigation, Hermès defends its products and expresses no remorse about the brutality exposed in the video.
In Texas, the Chambers County District Attorney is conducting an investigation at Lone Star Alligator Farms.
The alligators sold by Hermès are subjected to unspeakable atrocities on their journey to becoming a purse. Please sign letter asking Hermes to stop selling items made from crocodile and alligator skins.