British singer and actress Jane Birkin has requested that her name be dropped from being used in association with the luxury brand Hermès’ most iconic handbags, the “Birkin,” following a report, which unveiled animal mistreatment in the production process of the bag.
A report by the animal rights organisation, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) investigated the farming methods of crocodiles and alligators used to make the Birkin bag, and recently released a disclosure into the cruel treatment of crocodiles, wherein alleged employees of a crocodile farm in Texas were filmed slaughtering crocodiles using horrific means, and were documented stating that the farm supplied the brand Hermès.
The French fashion house Hermès has denied that the farm portrayed in the video are linked to the brand, and assured that “an investigation is under way at the Texas farm which was implicated in the video. Any breach of rules will be rectified and sanctioned,” said the fashion house. Going on to state, "Hermès imposes on its partners the highest standards in the ethical treatment of crocodiles. For more than 10 years, we have organised monthly visits to our suppliers.”
The bag was named after Jane Birkin following an unintended meeting on an aeroplane in 1981 between Ms Birkin and Jean-Louis Dumas, Hermès’ then-chief executive. Three years later the Birkin bag was created in her honour. Ms Birkin, released a statement saying: " 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.”
According to Women’s Wear Daily, the label, has made it clear that its relationship with the British actress remains the same. "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."
Despite Jane Birkin asking the brand Hermès to stop using her name, a sticking point is whether the actress has the right to do so? An issue here is that the right to the use of the name “Birkin” is trademarked for leather goods and those rights actually belong to the brand Hermès whom trademarked the name in 1997. With legal rights registered globally, the Hermès Birkin bag has been described as one of the most famous handbags in the world. Last month at a Christie’s auction in Hong Kong, a Birkin handbag was sold for HK$1.7m (US$222,000), making it the most expensive Birkin ever sold. From FL&B perspective it looks like Ms Birkin may have no (legal) rights to stop the brand using her name.
Will give you more details on Birkin v Hermes situation as this case unfolds.