British actress and singer Jane Birkin has severed ties with Hermès after being alerted to the French fashion house's alleged cruel treatment of crocodiles.
The 68-year-old star – who had the first Birkin bag created for her by the luxury brand's chief executive Jean-Louis Dumas in 1984 – asked that her name be removed from the title of the sought-after Hermès Birkin bag.
A Birkin can set customers back anything from £6,700 ($10,490, €9,500) to £145,000 ($227,000, €206,000) depending on the style and has a waiting list of up to six years because of the demand.
In a statement, Birkin explained that she no longer wished to be associated with the brand as long as the alleged controversial practices continued.
She 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 Hermès Group to rename the Birkin until better practices responding to international norms can be implemented for the production of this bag.''
Birkin added that she had signed actor Joaquin Phoenix's Mercy For Animals petition to "shed exotic skins from your wardrobe" in protest against the "millions of reptiles slaughtered each year and turned into shoes, handbags, belts and other accessories".
Hermès has previously come under fire from animal rights activists over it use of crocodile skin. It takes two to three crocodiles to make just one of the must-have accessories for the rich and famous.
A recently published video by Peta (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) claimed that the live reptiles from Texas to Zimbabwe used by Hermès were crammed into concrete pits before they were ''crudely hacked'' to death.
''Peta, on behalf of all kind souls in the world, thanks Ms Birkin for ending her association with Hermès, which makes grotesque handbags that were revealed in a Peta expose to be constructed from the skins of factory-farmed and cruelly slaughtered crocodiles," it said.
''We call on Hermès to stop plundering wildlife, factory-farming crocodiles and alligators and slaughtering them for their skins.
''Once, Birkin bags marked people as celebrities or at least members of the super-rich, but, soon, no one will want to be caught dead carrying one, and animal advocates will then breathe a sigh of relief.''
But Hermes insisted that the crocodile skins it sourced from a Texas farm in the video were not used for Birkin bags and stressed that it made sure its suppliers maintained the highest ethical standards regarding the treatment of crocodiles
"Hermes respects and shares her [Jane Birkin's] emotions and was also shocked by the images recently broadcast," it said in a statement.
"Her comments do not in any way influence the friendship and confidence that we have shared for so many years."