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People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) speaks out against Jeff Bezos’ girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez – or, more specifically, her purse.
While in London with Bezos last week, Sanchez was spotted leaving the Ham Yard Hotel carrying a Hermes Birkin bag, one of the most coveted styles of luxury handbags. in the world. However, it wasn’t the standard leather saddlebag, which often sells for upwards of $8,500. Sanchez’s version was made from crocodile skin, dyed in a bright pink hue. According to retailers, including Farfetch, a pre-owned iteration of Sanchez’s specific style will likely go from $87,500—$101,063.
On Wednesday, animal rights group PETA released a letter from its president, Ingrid Newkirk, asking Sanchez to donate the purse to the group’s Animal Atrocities Museum.
“I thought you looked gorgeous in the photo I saw of you walking out of the Ham Yard hotel – except for that crocodile skin Birkin bag,” Newkirk wrote, describing how the crocodile skin is obtained, including the different methods brands can use to do so. She also noted how celebrities including Mariah Carey and Blondie have donated fur coats to PETA’s museum, and that – if donated – PETA would replace Sanchez’s Birkin handbag with a vegan alternative.
“[C]Rocodiles are fascinating and intelligent animals that use tools, communicate through body language and sounds, love to play (yes!), and are excellent mothers who are fiercely protective of their young,” Newkirk concluded. “I hope you agree that your Birkin bag belongs to the Animal Atrocities Museum, and your donation would help educate children and adults about the exotic skins industry and show that you value kindness over cruelty. “
Hermés Birkin handbags are often made from leather, although more expensive models can be made from exotic skins, including ostrich and crocodile. While these materials aren’t the most common, exotic Birkins have been staples for many stars, including Kim Kardashian, Beyoncé, Jennifer Lopez and Victoria Beckham over the years. Leather Birkins – which Sanchez also owns – are more frequently produced and have been seen on celebrities, including the aforementioned stars, as well as Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Cardi B and Demi Lovato.
Indeed, it is clear that alternatives to exotic animal skins are on the rise in the fashion industry. This year, Dolce & Gabbana has banned fur from its collections – a move previously made by Chanel, Burberry and Carolina Herrera. As Newkirk mentions in his letter, there is also a range of leather alternatives used by designers today. Brands such as Stella McCartney, JW Pei, Simon Miller and Altuzarra, for example, have all created vegan accessories with leather made from mushrooms, cacti and even recycled plastic bottles.
How — or if — Sanchez responds to PETA remains to be seen.