How a Supermodel Inspired the Luxury Hermes Birkin Bag


Former supermodel Jane Birkin, who said she no longer wants to be associated with Hermès’ Birkin handbag, inspired the ultra-luxury product through a random encounter on a plane.

Birkin said she doesn’t want her name to be on the bag after PETA released a report about the farming methods of crocodiles and alligators that make the French product. Crocodile Birkin bags can cost around $60,000 in Hermès stores and leather Birkin bags can retail for around $10,000.

According to Agence France-Presse, Birkin said: “Having been alerted to the cruel practices endured by crocodiles during their slaughter for the production of Hermès bags carrying my name, I have asked the Hermès Group to rename the Birkin until better practices responding to international norms can be implemented for the production of this bag.”

The story of how the bag, carried by celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez, was named after her began on an Air France flight in 1981 to London. At the time, she was sitting next to Jean-Louis Dumas, the chief executive of Hermès.

PHOTO: Jane Birkin attends the Saint Laurent Menswear Spring/Summer 2016 show as part of Paris Fashion Week on June 28, 2015 in Paris.

“I’m not quite sure what type of bag I had with me — my husband, Jacques Doillon, had reversed his car over my basket, crushed it on purpose not two days before,” Birkin told The Telegraph in March 2012. “Little did he know that on this airplane journey, when everything fell out of whatever bag I had, the man next to me said, ‘You should have one with pockets.’ I said: ‘The day Hermès make one with pockets I will have that’, and he said: ‘But I am Hermès and I will put pockets in for you’.”

She then told The Telegraph that she drew a prototype on an airplane sickbag.

Birkin said about the naming, “I was very flattered!” according to The Telegraph. The company gives money as a form of royalto to Birkin to charities of her choice. In 2012, that figure was 30,000 British pounds or about $47,000, according to the British newspaper.

PHOTO: A photo taken on June 11, 2015 shows Hermes Birkin bags at the Maroquinerie de la Tardoire, a Hermes workshop specialized in products made with calfskin, in Montbron, southwestern France.

Today, Hermès said it agrees with Birkin’s shock at PETA’s investigation of cruelty to animals.

“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 said, according to Vogue today. “Hermès respects and shares her emotions and was also shocked by the images recently broadcast.”

Hermes and Birkin’s representatives did not respond to requests for comment from ABC News.