The Birkin bag, an iconic staple of the fashion world, may no longer be fit to wear the name it was given. At least, not the style that comes in crocodile.
Jane Birkin, the British singer for whom the bag was named back in 1984, no longer wishes to be associated with Hermès’ most coveted handbag because of how it’s made. According to the well-known animal rights group PETA, the crocodile farms used to harvest skins for the bags are incredibly inhumane. It was recently uncovered that they force the animals into concrete pits, then “hack them to death” without any regard to whether or not they suffered, or worse, still remain alive. Moreover, it takes two to three crocodiles to make just one Birkin bag.
Needless to say, Jane was horrified to hear her namesake bags were being made in such cruel ways, so she made a public plea to have Hermès remove her name from them until more humane methods were put into place.
“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,” Jane Birkin said in her statement. Good for you, Jane. Just like the beautiful (albeit way too expensive) handbag that was originally made for you, you are practical, but elegant down to the smallest detail.
If these cruel bag-making practices disgust and horrify you as much as they do Ms. Birkin, don’t worry. There are plenty of cruelty-free handbag designers out there to choose from. While their bags may not be made of animal skin, the vegan substitutes are surprisingly luxurious, and you’ll likely get just as many compliments sporting them. Here are some of my favorites.
Gunas bags are gorgeous and a staple brand for cruelty-free fashion. They come in fabulous, chic styles that no one will be able to tell aren’t real leather. This bag is my personal fave because it’s sleek but pops in that gorgeous Tiffany-style turquoise.
Image: Kate Spade ($198)
Kate Spade bags are the definition of classy, and they come with a much smaller price tag than Hermès’ bags. While she does make leather bags, she also has a huge vinyl and cotton collection. This lovely striped tote is perfect for summer trips to the beach and dinner out afterwards.
Image: Matt and Nat ($150)
Matt and Nat bags are by far my favorite non-leather bag option. Just look at them — they’re simple, but beautifully crafted, and just as supple-looking as leather. If Jane ever wants to give her name to a cruelty-free purse, I think something like this would suit her quite well.