Beth Stebner
July 29, 2015 1:10 pm

Jane Birkin is known for many things: her appearance in Antonioni’s mod classic Blowup, her collaborations with french singer Serge Gainsbourg, her award-winning cinematic turns, and her humanitarian work.

Oh, and a little thing called the Birkin bag. Maybe you’ve heard of it? Perhaps the most iconic ‘it’ bag, Hermès’ creation of leather that probably cost more than our college education, was named after the actress and singer, after her brief encounter on an airplane with the label’s chief exec in the ’80s.

Birkin, for a time, carried the purse herself. But now she has spoken out against the alleged cruelty to the crocodiles used to make the luxurious satchel, and wants to consciously uncouple her name from the bag.

“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,” Birkin said in a statement, according to AFP.

For reference, celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Victoria Beckham, and the fictitious ladies of Sex and the City, are all big fans of the simple leather bag, which comes at a five or six-figure price tag, if you can even manage to get your name on the wait list. An entire episode of Gilmore Girls also centers on the significance of Rory’s boyfriend Logan getting her a Birkin bag as a positive sign of their relationship.

But the association may not be so positive anymore.

In a week where people are outraged at animal abuse (RIP, Cecil the Lion), PETA claims that the crocodiles used to produce Birkin bags are cut into while they’re still alive or shot with a bolt gun.

An investigator at one such gator farm “saw alligators continuing to move their legs and tails in the bleed rack and in bloody ice bins several minutes after their attempted slaughter,” a statement from PETA reads.

The animal rights group also thanked Birkin Tuesday for “ending her association with Hermès.”

The luxury brand, for its part, was quick to release its own statement.

“(Jane Birkin’s) 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.”

The brand added that it has launched an investigation at the Texas farm shown in the harrowing video, and says it follows slaughter standards set by the Fish and Wildlife Association.

The idea of animal cruelty for the sake of luxury has been a deeply-contested one throughout the years, with PETA and other animal rights organizations remaining adamant that fur and leather is cruel. It seems like the best way to go is to find a handbag that is a) a little more affordable and b) isn’t mired in controversy.

(Image via, via, WB )

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