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Animals Are Friends, Not Fashion

Gennyvera Pacheco |
August 11, 2015 | 2:58 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Celebrities have been supporting PETA for years (Creative Commons)
Celebrities have been supporting PETA for years (Creative Commons)
WARNING: Some of the following links contain graphic content. Viewer discretion is advised. 

When former chairman of Hermès Jean-Louis Dumas met Jane Birkin on a plane in the early '80s, he may have never imagined how much that small encounter caused a storm, both good and bad, in the world of fashion. Inspired by Birkin’s lack of a perfect weekend bag, Dumas created a bag with her namesake. 

The bag went from being a kind gesture towards Birkin, to an embodiment of luxury. To this day, an “entry-level Birkin” goes for about $10,000 all the way to approximately $140,000. However, the Birkin’s reign as the ultimate status symbol may be coming to an end, as Jane Birkin herself requested Hermès to stop using her name

The reason? The bags use alligator skin, making them all the more luxurious to many buyers. PETA published an investigation on an alligator factory (WARNING: graphic content), and it is said that the factory belongs to the Hermès brand. 

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"Having been alerted to the cruel practices reserved for crocodiles during their slaughter to make Hermès handbags carrying my name,” Birkin writes, according to The Cut. “I have asked Hermès to debaptize the Birkin Croco until better practices in line with international norms can be put in place.”

This is not the first time those in the public eye have spoken out on the lack of animal rights in fashion. Arguably, the origin of this movement is attributed to PETA and their “Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur” campaign in 1991. From there, many notable figures have joined the cause and The buzz it created was so much that more accessible brands such as H&M have joined in on the (hopefully permanent) trend of conscious fashion.

One of the celebrities who has worked closely with PETA is Pink, who participated in the Rather Go Naked campaign earlier this year. She also made a video back in 2008 (GRAPHIC CONTENT) addressing the issue of wool clothing and the animals who suffer during production.

Charlize Theron has also worked with PETA against the use of fur in fashion. Theron posed in with her dog, Tucker, alongside the slogan, “If you wouldn’t wear your dog, please don’t wear any fur.” 

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More recently, Ke$ha has also become a prominent advocate for animal rights in fashion. Her work with the Humane Society on the #BeCrueltyFree campaign supports the purchase and use of makeup brands who do not test on animals. In 2013, the Humane Society even presented her with an award for her work.

Other famous supporters against animal cruelty include: fashion designer Stella McCartney and her father, Paul McCartney, Angelina Jolie, Joaquin Phoenix, Natalie Portman, Miranda Kerr, Anne Hathaway, Dennis Rodman, Kristen Bell, Russell Simmons, and many more. 

Want to join the list and make your wardrobe cruelty-free? PETA has excellent information on their site about where one can find non-leather or synthetic material shoes, bags, and clothing. 

There is the hope that Birkin’s choice to withdraw her name from the Hermès brand will wake some more people up to the problem with animal cruelty. With new alternatives coming out every day, like vegan leather or canvas, there are ways to get that luxurious feeling for a messenger bag or purse without harming any animals.

Reach Staff Reporter Gennyvera Pacheco here.



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