In July, it was widely publicized that model and singer Jane Birkin requested Hermès remove her name from the crocodile skin model of her iconic namesake bag. This statement was the fallout from a PETA investigation that allegedly exposed inhumane practices at a Texas alligator farm allegedly affiliated with the French fashion house. At a shareholder’s meeting Friday, Bloomberg reports that CEO Axel Dumas says the brand is working to repair relations with Birkin and to demonstrate that their practices are “often better than others.”
The status of the Birkin is indisputable; Victoria Beckham reportedly has over 100, Kim Kardashian famously received a hand painted Birkin from Kanye West for her 34th birthday, the name-dropping can go on for days. As awe-inspiring as the bag’s longstanding influence is, the origin story is even better.
In an age where literally every brand manages some type of celebrity collaboration in an effort to bolster sales and captivate a new audience the novelty of such mergers means quite little in the modern day fashion industry. A collaboration that has stood the test of time in an unprecedented way is that of English born, Paris based Birkin and Jean-Louis Dumas, Hermès’ Chief Executive in 1981. As the story goes, Birkin was on an Air France flight when the contents of her bag spilled over. The man seated next to her (Dumas) suggested that she needed a bag with pockets. According to a 2012 interview with the style icon, Birkin countered, “The day Hermès makes one with pockets I will have that.” To which Dumas responded “But I am Hermès and I will put pockets in for you.” According to The Telegraph, the pair collaborated over the size and shape of the bag, sketching one of the most covetable bags the world has ever known on an Air France sickbag.
PETA’s allegations are not to be taken lightly, in fact the notoriously disruptive organization has purchased a single share of the luxury retailer according to Fashionista, simply as a means to access shareholder meetings. While the topic is tricky one, one thing remains certain, one cannot simply remove the Birkin from Birkin Bag.
Jane Birkin (right: with Birkin Bag)
(L) Victoria Beckham. (R) Kim Kardashian West with her painted Birkin.