The Horrifying Secret Behind That Designer Handbag You've Been Dreaming Of

sofia vergara with hermesThe beloved designer bag of celebs like Beyoncé, Victoria Beckham, Sofia Vergara, and Kim Kardashian is under fire for horrific practices. Hermès' Birkin luxury handbags, named after cool '70s-era singer/actress Jane Birkin, usually retail for anywhere from upward of $10,000 to $150,000 -- if you can get them. A fuchsia crocodile Hermès Birkin bag recently broke records at Christie’s when the gavel fell at $222,000. 


And the crocodile versions -- which each require the belly skins of about three crocs -- have been seen on the arms of Hollywood A-listers.

Painstakingly handcrafted by artisans, the Birkin once boasted a years-long wait list, which the company abolished in 2010. But the pain actually isn’t in the wait.

More from The StirDid an Animal Die for That Outfit?

A PETA exposé this month outs the horrors of production involving how crocodiles and alligators (allegedly sent to a Hermès-owned tannery as raw material for purses, as well as watchbands) are raised and killed -- sometimes hacked into while they are still alive -- in the U.S. and Zimbabwe.


The video -- which, actually, I couldn’t watch, as the still photos were bad enough -- was shot by an undercover PETA worker at a gator factory in Winnie, Texas. PETA takes exception to how the animals are kept, crowded into dark sheds, in dirty water, without enough room to come out on dry land. And that’s before workers slice at them with knives, remove their spines with metal rods, and throw them in ice -- while they’re still kicking.

This is not beautiful; it’s cruel.  

The singer Pink, who leant her voice to the bloody croc asking for its hide back from a purse-wielding fashionista in a PETA ad, would likely have two words for anyone who’d wear one of these bags: "Blow me."  

In this case, the fashion crime I’d rather commit would be to wear a pair of Crocs, rather than an inhumanely slaughtered croc bag. 

It bears noting that Hermès today issued the following statement in response to the New York Times:

Hermès has established a strong network of farm partners to secure its supply in the highest skin quality. All our skins used by Hermès are sourced from farms where Hermès demands the best farming conditions, which conform to the international regulations.

These farms respect the rules established by the Washington Convention (1972), which defines the parameters of the protection of specific species. These rules, established under the aegis of the U.N.O., were beneficial for the protection of crocodiles: These farms reintroduce into the wild a part of their farm breeding program, which therefore assists in regulating the local ecosystems.

Hermès is continuously verifying all procedures. Any nonconforming parties will be dealt with accordingly and will be sanctioned.

Would you wear a croc Birkin bag knowing how they get the hides?

Maria Ricapito is a writer and editor who lives in the Hudson Valley with her ancient toy poodle and two cats. She writes about beauty, style, home, and true crime, and her work had appeared in, Marie Claire, Real Simple, Health, and New York Cottages & Gardens (where she's a contributing editor). In her spare time, she likes to bike, hike, count the hummingbirds at her feeder, and is learning how to garden (trial and error -- lots of error).


Images via Vladimir Labissiere/Splash News & Freder

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