Birkin wants Hermes to remove name off iconic ‘Birkin Bag’

Hermes' iconic Birkin Bag—which costs around $10,000—may not have its name for much longer, as the inspiration behind the handbag has demanded some dramatic changes.

British singer and actress, Jane Birkin, has asked the luxury brand to remove her name from the design, after an investigation by an animal rights charity was published into how it is made.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) published a graphic video that it said showed crocodiles and alligators being bred and killed for their skins, which were then reportedly sold to Hermes-owned tanneries.

'Rename the Birkin'

Jane Birkin
Jane Birkin

Since the video was made public, more than 68,000 people have signed PETA's petition calling on Hermes to "stop buying and selling crocodile- and alligator-skin accessories immediately."

In a statement following the investigation, Birkin said she had asked the fashion group to remove her name from the crocodile-made bags.

"Having been alerted to the cruel practices endured by crocodiles during their slaughter for the production of Hermes bags carrying my name … I have asked Hermes Group to rename the Birkin until better practices responding to international norms can be implemented for the production of this bag," she said.

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Hermes said in a statement that they respected and shared the emotions of the actress, adding that they too were "shocked by the images recently broadcast."

Hermes however, stressed that the farm in Texas did not belong to them and the skins weren't used by the firm.

"An investigation is underway at the Texas farm which was implicated in the video. Any breach of rules will be rectified and sanctioned."

"Hermès imposes on its partners the highest standards in the ethical treatment of crocodiles. For more than 10 years, we have organized monthly visits to our suppliers."

Hermes Birkin bags
Mehdi Fedouach | AFP | Getty Images
Hermes Birkin bags

The bag has long been known for recognized shape and hefty price tag – one version of the bag (which was diamond encrusted) was dubbed the "world's most expensive handbag" when it sold at auction for over $220,000.

Birkin bags are made using a variety of animal skins, including lizard, ostrich and crocodile.

"Once, Birkin bags marked people as celebrities or at least members of the super-rich, but soon, no one will want to be caught dead carrying one, and animal advocates will then breathe a sigh of relief," Ingrid Newkirk, founder of PETA, said in a statement.

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—By CNBC's Alexandra Gibbs, follow her on Twitter @AlexGibbsy.