PETA, a Hermes Shareholder, Questions Brand About Use of Exotic Skins

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The PETA vs. Hermes saga continues at the French fashion house's annual shareholder meeting.

PETA has finally put its strategy for infiltrating Hermes to use. 

In July of 2015, the organization bought a single share of the French luxury fashion house in order to gain access to its shareholder meetings. At the time, PETA had planned to use the meetings as a means to directly confront Hermes regarding its use of crocodile skins for its Birkin bags — an issue that has since been resolved with the company. (Hermes declared the cruelty incident "isolated irregularity" after they conducted an independent investigation into the Louisiana and Texas farms in question.) Actress Jane Birkin, who had asked that her name be removed from the bags following the accusations of animal cruelty, was also pleased with the outcome of the investigation and allowed the continued use of her name.  

On Tuesday, however, PETA leveraged its position as a shareholder during Hermes' annual general meeting in Paris in order to address the company's use of exotic ostrich skins. 

Last September, PETA posted a video showing ostriches being crammed into a pen before having their throats slit in front of their flockmates. The footage is allegedly from a South African farm that supplies skins to Prada as well as Hermes for their luxury goods. (PETA also purchased a single share of Prada in April of this year.)

According to French news outlet AFP, PETA spokeswoman Isabelle Goetz directly questioned Hermes CEO Axel Dumas at the shareholders' meeting regarding allegations of cruelty at one of the fashion house's alleged suppliers. Dumas responded to Goetz by saying that Hermes "fully meets its responsibilities in its partnerships with farms with which we work." 

In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, Hermes "condemned" the "groundless claim" made by PETA and stood by its release posted in February of this year after PETA's report was initially published.

Read the company's full statement below: 

Contrary to what the video broadcast by the association suggests:

- The farms shown in the videos do not belong to Hermès.
- Hermès operates at a secondary level within this industry.
- The small quantities of ostrich leather used by Hermès do not come from farms but tanneries which, as per all Hermès suppliers, are subject to permanent and stringent controls.
- Ostrich farming's first vocation is the production of meat for food and feather production; both industries combined represent a bigger share than the production of leather.
-Farming conditions in South Africa are closely monitored by several independent institutions: NSPCA (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), SAVA (South African Veterinarian Association), DAFF (South African Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries).

Hermès is always active and vigilant when it comes to corporate social responsibility. It carries out systematic checks on its suppliers and makes sure they strictly comply with local and international policies, and always strives to adhere to best practices in order to improve these policies.

Hermès deplores the relentless attacks by PETA aiming to harm its reputation through a dishonest representation of the facts and a complete ignorance of the deep ethical commitment of Hermès to the fight against animal cruelty, as well as any other welfare concerns.

3:00 p.m. Wednesday, June 1: Updated with a statement from Hermes.