Imagine strutting down the most illustrious street in Paris, the Champs-Élysées, flaunting your brand new high-end Hermes Birkin bag handmade to perfection. Your new addition has welcomed you into the exclusive most-expensive-handbag-club. It feels amazing, you look wonderful and it’s so exclusive; it is beyond fashion itself. But how do you feel about the crocodile whose skin you’re wearing? Sounds kind of grotesque now, doesn’t it?
High-end French fashion houses scout their crocodile leather from the crocodile farms in Northern Territory, Australia. Crocodile farming in the NT is a rapidly growing industry selling skins to top French design houses such as Hermes.
Mick Burns, the owner of Crocosaurus Cove in Darwin and a crocodile farm in NT, says that selling crocodile skins is a “lucrative business”. Fashion houses like Hermes pay a fortune for Australian salt water crocodile leather. The Australian salt water crocodile, Crocodylus porosus, is the species used by French Fashion houses in their expensive bags. When you think about crocodile skin, with all the bumps and scales, the last thing you think is ‘delicate’, but the skin is said to be the softest — and most expensive —leather in the world. A flawless skin from a single crocodile can sell for up to $1000.
They’re sent to Paris to be dyed and handmade into very expensive and sought after Hermes Birkin Bags, valued between $34,000 to $61,000.
Hermes sells the most expensive and exclusive bags in the world; only wealthy people can afford them. Celebrities such as Victoria Beckham, Jennifer Lopez, Kim Kardashian, Lady Gaga, Nicole Richie, and Pharrell Williamsare all proud owners of the Hermes Birkin bag handmade with Australian saltwater crocodile leather.
Salt water crocodiles in the Northern Territory are seen as pests, according to Mick Burns. He says that not only does he sell crocodile skins to French fashion houses as a lucrative business but also he helps to preserve the species and educate people about conservation by running the Crocosaurus Cove Tourism Park.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on the ethics of using crocodile skin for handbags in top end fashion houses.
Top End Fashion. April 11, 2013. Web. Sixty Minutes.