Birkin bags — with their years-long wait lists, five-digit price tags and cult-like celebrity following — have long been considered a status symbol. Now the inspiration behind Hermès‘s high-fashion bag, British singer and style icon Jane Birkin, is speaking out about the practices used to created one of the label’s most notable (and expensive) iterations, the crocodile Birkin.
Following an investigation conducted by PETA (which the organization published footage of on its website), Birkin released a statement to the AFP. “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,” she said.
In response, Hermès released the following statement to PEOPLE: “Jane Birkin has expressed her concerns regarding practices for slaughtering crocodiles. 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.”
The statement continues: “An investigation is underway at the Texas farm which was implicated in the video. Any breach of rules will be rectified and sanctioned. Hermès specifies that this farm does not belong to them and that the crocodile skins supplied are not used for the fabrication of Birkin bags.”
Celebrities are notoriously fond of Birkin bags — many willing to wait as long as it takes (or pay an upward of $150,000) to sling one over their shoulders. Ashley Tisdale, for example, once waited two years for this cobalt blue handbag. And Eric Johnson surprised (his then fiancée) Jessica Simpson with an orange one for her 31st birthday. Meanwhile, Kim Kardashian West, Victoria Beckham and Jennifer Lopez have all been spotted carrying croc versions.