Hermés Birkin bag vs. PETA


Skärmavbild 2015-09-03 kl. 23.04.33


Keeping it clean – from the cocoon to the butterfly

The case of today is an unpleasant but ongoing story from 24th of June 2015 about the french fashion house Hermés concerning the four levels of the fashion industry;

◊ The raw material – Crocodile & alligator skins.

◊ The production – Not in line with the ethics of PETA & allegedly criminal.

◊ Retail sales – Yes, if one wants to spend around 12 000 EUR & have not bought two Hermés bags already this year.

◊ The promo – The iconic model & singer Jane Birkin.
These are the parts eventually resulting in the famous Hermés Birkin bag, which is at central issue in this story.

About the second level – the PETA (People for the Ethical Rights of The Animals) is the world´s largest animal rights group. Famous for their aggressive media campaigns, they are striving for the ethical treatment of animals around the globe. Now they have, after visiting the Texas- farm Lone Star Alligator Farms (which delivers skins to the french fashion house Hermés), discovered a possible crime against federal- and state law concerning animal cruelty in the U.S. 

Through an investigation of Padenga Holdings who owns 50% of the mentioned Texas farm, PETA managed to film acts of slaughter that allegedly could qualify as illegal. 

But, what has this to do with the iconic singer & model Jane Birkin? According to the saying, Hermés named the bag after her due to the fact that the chief executive Jean- Louis Dumas met her on a flight between Paris to London back in 1981. 

Reportedly, Jane Birkin contacted the Hermés Group after the PETA video was released in June this year (2015), demanding them to rename the bag until better practices for the bag´s production can be implemented. 

Not too surprisingly – there is a legal problem with this. The fact that Hermés Group have a trademark registration of the word mark “Birkin” (registered as an international trademark through WIPO; see PRV), makes them the right- holders to the “Birkin” word mark, not Jane Birkin herself. In practice it means that she can not demand the fashion house to rename the bag – at least not with the law as a backup.

Brainwashed from 4 years in law school and all – but if I was Jane Birkin, I might would have registered my own name as a trademark for e.g accessories before the Birkin bag first was released (yes, it is possible). Afterwards I would instead have issued a license to Hermés for the right to use the name “Birkin” and eventually be able to control the use of this word mark with the law on my side. But well, what do I know?

FBI now targets Animal Cruelty as a serious crime through a new law entering into practice in January 2016. The iconic Jane Birkin shows sympathy to the ethical treatment of animals by asking Hermés to rename the Birkin Bag. Obviously this topic is immensely current, connecting the worlds of fashion and law even closer together.

Maybe the luxury brands of tomorrow are the ones that can ensure that no crimes are being committed through the four levels of fashion.

Speaking of animals – keeping it clean all the way, 

from the cocoon to the butterfly.