After taking small stakes in Hermès and Prada in recent years, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (“PETA”), an animal rights organization famous for its shocking media campaigns, has acquired a single share in French luxury goods conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. The ownership stake will grant PETA access to LVMH’s shareholder meetings in order to further pressure the conglomerate – which owns Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, Celine, Loewe, and Marc Jacobs, among other brands – to stop using alligator and crocodile skins to make its products.
According to a statement from PETA, “In the wake of an exposé revealing that reptiles on crocodile farms in Vietnam — including two that have supplied skins to a tannery owned by Louis Vuitton’s parent company, LVMH — are confined to tiny pits and sometimes hacked into while they’re still alive and thrashing, PETA has become a shareholder of LVMH on the Euronext Paris to put pressure on the company to stop selling exotic skins merchandise.”
“Every PETA exposé of the exotic-skins industry has found sensitive living beings crammed into filthy pits, hacked apart, and left to die,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “From demonstrating on the street to speaking up in the boardroom, PETA will push LVMH to stop selling any bag, watchband, or shoe made from a reptile’s skin.”
After acquiring a single share in Hermès in 2015 for $360, a representative from PETA confronted Hermès' chief executive officer at the company’s annual general meeting in May. Isabelle Goetz, a French spokeswoman for the non-profit animal rights organization, attended the brand's annual general meeting and asked CEO Axel Dumas if Hermès planned to stop using exotic skins, including those of ostriches.
Dumas responded to PETA's concerns by reiterating that Hermès, which is best known for its pricey Birkin and Kelly bags, ensures its suppliers respect international regulations in addition to its own rules of ethical conduct. He said in the meeting: “You have a number of concerns regarding the treatment of animals. We respect them, but we don’t necessarily share your position regarding farming. Farming conditions strictly comply with international regulations because we want to apply the best practices in this field, and I think that Hermès has always been at the forefront of wanting to pay attention to ethics and the treatment of animals."