Saturday, 6 July 2013

Bags That Bleed - The Truth About Hermès

Having just finished my second year of Fashion Journalism, I was having a flick through all my old projects, when I came across the article I wrote about notorious fashion house Hermès. Whilst I absoutely adored their brand previously, since researching and writing this article to expose the truth, I can honestly say it makes my stomach turn and as such a renound luxury fashion brand, they should be ashamed of their practices to make their bags. I wrote this so that us as consumers rethink what we buy in to - and yes, I am aware these bags are luxury and super expensive BUT animal cruelty is present in countless many other industries and this is just one disturbing scratch on the surface.

So here we go.. Prepare to be moved.

*There is some distressing and very graphic content below, so please be aware*

No one can deny the arm candy that French fashion house Hermès can provide a woman with. The infamous brand’s extravagant leather goods can be found in the hands of endless A- listers, yet it’s hard to believe how the immoral process of production can counteract its indisputable beauty. 

Established in 1837, Hermès has grown from a small workshop business into a company worth £118 billion and is named the second most valuable luxury brand in the world for 2012. Boasting beautifully made scarves, belts, homewear and shoes to name but a few, it’s safe to say that the Hermès brand is an established household name. With a hefty price tag attached to their exclusive handbags, the classic ‘Birkin’ can set you back at least £25,000.  These figures may set hearts racing but the production, quality and aesthetic appear to be worth every single penny to the naked eye.  

However, one of the key aspects that Hermès greatly pride themselves on - is the controversial use of animal skin. Coming under severe fire for their cruelty towards animals, Hermès is unapologetically not fazed by the criticism, and remain having dedicated, high profile customers. Each of their bags are handmade with the greatest attention to detail, from the sewing to the polishing by skilful French artisans. 

It’s the elements of consistency and flawless craftsmanship that ultimately makes the Hermès bag one of the most recognisable and desirable in the entire fashion industry. Its perfection even goes down to the metallic components, as they are plated with precious metals such as gold. With possibly having to wait years to have one of these babies on your arm, the desire for their merchandise is only increasing regardless of any backlash.

Whilst this sounds so far like every woman's dream - I brand these ‘the bags that bleed’ as one typical model consists of an exotic outer skin such as crocodile or snake with a goat lining. 

The catastrophic demand for these goods means these animals have to be bred in confined, horrendously contaminated spaces. Animal rights organisation, PETA, often target the brand as the subject of their public campaigns, protesting that ‘cruelty will never be in fashion’. 

After exposing their brutal methods with video evidence, the footage is disturbing and sickening to say the least.  Killing methods include putting ground chillies in cows eyes to blind them and brutally suffocating crocodiles. 

Snakes for example, naturally have a slow metabolism, meaning that even after having their heads hacked off with a machete, their mouths are still snapping, hearts are still beating and they can feel their skin being viciously ripped off their bodies. 

If you are not one to exactly fly the flag for the rights of animals - another huge concern is for the environment - it is also severely harmed by these processes and creates a toxic health hazard to humans. One shocking example being that the cases of leukemia in Kentucky is five times the national average due to the area being exposed to the harmful chemicals that Hermès use for treating the raw skin.  

With all the stylish faux options available, I personally find that it’s extremely hard to justify these inhumane murders. The beauty and quality of these bags is what blinds consumers into buying them, without considering how they are made. Unfortunately, it’s not just Hermès that carry out these appalling attacks on animals, as more and more fashion houses are beginning to have their cruel methods exposed. Its time to stop and think for a second - who’s skin are you in? 

Rupinder xo 

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