Alligator farmers in Florida are struggling, and it's not just because of the economy or even, you know, the vicious predators they farm. An evil luxury fashion brand is hoarding skins and distorting the market.
Hermes, say the New York Times, has its own tannery. They buy up alligator skins for processing and are now stockpiling them, allegedly to push the price up and make the finished skins too expensive for other brands like Manolo Blahnik.
This Mugatu-esque move means that the farmers themselves are fucked and going out of business. Let's take a moment to examine the process of alligator farming. The farmers fight off mother alligators with a pole to collect eggs. They then raise the little critters at great expense. When they're big enough:
Stolid men wade into shallow tanks and pull the alligators out by hand. Biting happens. After the gators are killed with a stab to the brain, they are skinned and sorted: heads and claws for the French Quarter souvenir shops, meat for the Cajun restaurants, guts for turtles, dogs or anything else whose tastes run that way.
A spokesperson for Hermes, a woman named Caroline Schwartz-Mailhe who you can bet is not wrestling no reptiles, said the brand's stockpiling was "to support them [farmers] in these difficult times and to respond to Hermès' increasing development in alligator skins." They are also breeding their own crocodiles in Australia, say Reuters. So they genuinely seem to be starting an evil reptile empire.
If this offends you the upside is that you'll find an Hermes boycott is really, really easy to stick to.