The Hermès Birkin has to be one of the most famous pieces of fashion iconography in the world. An instant status symbol with a waiting list longer than Karlie Kloss's pins, it's become one of the most sought after handbags in history - and the most expensive at that. Varying styles of the tote can fetch upwards of £200,000, with rarer and bespoke models setting wealthy bidders back MILLIONS at auction.
So, it comes as no surprise that A-listers have made it their personal, stylish quest to own as many of them as possible.
Kim Kardashian famously used hers as a gym and nappy bag, and her husband Kanye even had one painted on as a Christmas gift for his, um, lucky lady, while Victoria Beckham has a long-standing penchant for the designer arm candy that dates back to her 'WAG' days, where she matched them to her colour block dresses.
However, it looks like the Birkin's ranking in society may be about to change as Jane Birkin, the iconic '60s actress and the inspiration behind the creation, has demanded that Hermès remove her name from the brand's Croc bag — one of the most expensive variations of the arm candy on the market.
Her demand comes as animal welfare organisation PETA alleged that at an alligator factory in Texas, the very factory which is said to provide skins especially for the for the creation of the croc Birkins, used inhumane practises to kill the animals.
The actress, who has been a keen charity campaigner all of her life, responded to the discovery with the following statement: 'Having been alerted to the cruel practises endured by crocodiles during their slaughter for the production of Hermès bags carrying my name, I have asked Hermès Group to rename the Birkin until better practises responding to international norms can be implemented for the production of this bag.'
And while Hermès initially kept tight-lipped about the allegations surrounding the manufacture of its bags, the luxury label followed Jane's example with the following declaration: 'Jane Birkin has expressed her concerns regarding practises 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 brand also added that it will be investigating the conditions in which the animals are kept and killed in greater detail in the days to come.
Hermès continued: '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.'
'Hermès imposes on its partners the highest standards in the ethical treatment of crocodiles. For more than 10 years, we have organised monthly visits to our suppliers. We control their practises and their conformity with slaughter standards established by veterinary experts and by the Fish and Wildlife (a federal American organisation for the protection of nature) and with the rules established under the aegis of the U.N.O, by the Washington Convention of 1973 which defines the protection of endangered species.'
The big question is, will the Hermès Birkin now be regarded as a fashion taboo? Will its value decrease for the first time since its initial production 31 years ago? And what exactly will the label choose to rename it? Only time — and members of the exclusive Hermès Birkin owners club — will tell...