Global protest against Hermès for exploiting crocodiles for their bags

Four women covered in blood lying in front of the store
Activists protest outside Hermès shop, Polanco, Mexico City, photo: Gerardo Vieyra via Reuters Connect

Animal rights groups held protests at stores of French fashion label Hermès in nine countries this week as part of a global action against crocodile farming.

Activists in Australia, Austria, Canada, Germany, Indonesia, Mexico, the United Kingdom (UK), Norway, and the United States urged Hermès to stop selling crocodile leather.

In the UK, protestors gathered on Saturday at Hermès on Bond Street in London. “We are speaking on behalf of thousands of people around the world when we say Hermès must [end] their use of exotic animal skins,” said Ayrton Cooper, campaigns manager at UK non-profit Animal Justice Project.

In Mexico, four women from Animal Save Movement were covered in blood while lying next to a bag during a protest on Thursday in front of the Hermès store in Polanco, Mexico City.

Several high-end fashion brands, including Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld and Mulberry, have banned exotic animal skins from future collections. Hermès, however, appears to be going ahead with its plans to build one of the biggest crocodile farms in Australia.

The global action comes as the latest in a campaign by Australian animal rights group Kindness Project to end the slaughter of crocodiles for luxury fashion accessories.

The #dropcroc campaign began in August after animal protection charity Farm Transparency Project released whistleblower footage from inside four intensive crocodile farms in the Northern Territory in Australia.

The footage exposed the cramped conditions in which saltwater crocodiles are raised and how the wild animals are slaughtered for their skin.

In the wild, saltwater crocodiles swim long distances and live for around 70 years. On farms, they are kept in small cages and are killed at just two or three years old.

Three or four crocodiles are slaughtered to make one Hermès Birkin bag.

“We cannot stand by and allow luxury fashion houses to use and abuse our precious native wildlife,” Kindness Project campaign director Alix Livingstone said in a statement.

Kindness project’s campaign has so far seen support from over 35,000 individuals, as well as celebrity backing from Harry Potter actress Evanna Lynch, fashion photographer Alexi Lubomirski, and conservationist Chris Darwin.

The campaign has also written an open letter to Kim Kardashian, asking her to make a pledge to no longer buy or wear exotic skins.

“Celebrities have huge influence over the fashion world,” said Livingstone. “We hope once Kim learns of the cruelty involved in the exotic skin trade, particularly Hermès treatment of Australian saltwater crocodiles, she will commit to kindness in a bid to protect them.”

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