In a week that has seen animal rights come to the forefront, Jane Birkin has protested the continued use of her name in connection with the iconic Hermès Birkin bag because of the way in which the crocodiles that are used for fabric are killed.
A statement from Birkin reads in part, “I have asked Hermès to debaptize the Birkin Croco until better practices in line with international norms can be put in place.”
And in response, Hermès said in a statement: “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.”
The statement goes on to say that the company visits the suppliers of its materials to make sure that the standards it imposes are maintained.
Maintaining a good relationship with Birkin-and her name on those pricey bags-is the only way the company can command the tens of thousands of dollars they ask. Without mention of the Hermès name, anyone who follows fashion will know what a Birkin is and who makes them. They were at the center of an episode of Sex and the City. They are a fixture of the Upper East Side described in the current bestseller Primates of Park Avenue. They hang from the arms of celebrities. It’s a statement piece.
And it’s not just the item itself, but the story behind it. The Birkin got its name after Jane Birkin told then-CEO of Hermès Jean-Louis Dumas that, as a new mom in 1984, she wanted a stylish bag in which to carry all she needed to bring with her. It’s a cute story that only adds to its charm.
After more than 30 years, rebranding the bag with a new name would immediately depreciate it. What would you call it? And what would be the meaning of that name? If anything, it would make the value of the Birkin go up since it would be even harder to get.