A protester lobbying for animal welfare crashed the French firm’s annual supervisory board meeting on Wednesday. Urging members to stop farming and purchasing reptile hides, she said companies can now source “sustainable, luxurious vegan materials that don’t involve the torture and slaughter of exotic animals.” In 2021, a PETA video depicted abuses at an Australian crocodile farm linked to Hermès, the animal-rights organization said at the time.
A PETA representative reportedly “paraded” around the company’s board room sporting a mango leather purse to showcase animal-hide alternatives in a stunt kicking off a “Week of Action” from April 20-28. PETA has planned a street art installation by street artist Praxis near Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Hermes locations in New York City. Supporters plan to march outside of the stores on April 23-24. The animal rights group said it will bring its activism to the doorsteps of Louis Vuitton owner LVMH and Gucci parent Kering in the coming days.
Luxury brands are moving away from fur, with Burberry, Prada, Chanel, Donna Karan, Michael Kors, Versace, Dolce & Gabbana and Saks Fifth Avenue announcing plans to drop mammal hides from their collections. PETA is urging a similar movement away from reptile skins frequently used in bags, wallets, belts and shoes.
While Gucci dropped genuine animal fur from its lines in 2017 and invested in bio-based materials to replace leather hides, it still uses reptile skins in accessories. A 2021 PETA investigation into an Asian slaughterhouse revealed brutal treatment of lizards being slaughtered. PETA found similar conditions at two slaughterhouses that supply snakeskins to LVMH.
“Behind every snakeskin Louis Vuitton bag or lizard-skin Gucci watchband is a sensitive reptile who endured a horrific death,” PETA executive vice president Tracy Reiman said. “Today’s shoppers care about animal rights and sustainability, and PETA is calling on designers to get with the times and stop the gruesome slaughter of exotic animals for fashion.”
“Rooted in an approach that combines multi-stakeholder collaboration with continuous improvement, Hermès’ policy in this area is to go beyond scrupulous compliance with laws and regulations,” the French company wrote on its website.
Calling animal welfare “a systematic part of its work with all upstream partners” including tanners, dressers and hide suppliers, Hermès said it has “put in place a very strict policy for animal welfare within its direct sphere of responsibility in reptile farms.” Those policies extend to external partners in other sectors, with 95 percent of its hides coming from the food industry, it added.
“A monitoring system adapted to each sector ensures practices are improved thanks to regular internal and external checks and audits of supply chains,” Hermès said. “Several audits are carried out each year across all supply chains and are therefore representative of all animal material supplies.”