Activists with 'Dead Ostrich Head' Stage PETA Hermès Protest in London

Peta protest
Jackie Joyce, Anna Buraya and Charly Keats appeared outside London's flagship store holding fake Ostrich-skin bags, March 31, 2015. PETA

Activists have held a half-naked protest outside Hermès's flagship store in central London to demonstrate against the fashion brand's use of ostrich leather.

International Animal Rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is calling on Hermès, Prada, and all other retailers to drop ostrich and other exotic skins.

Jackie Joyce, 29, led the protest, during which she stood topless with a mock dead ostrich draped across her chest. She was joined by fellow activists Anna Buraya and Charly Keats holding handbag-shaped placards reading "Hermès: Bin ostrich skin."

In a video released by PETA, one-year-old ostriches are turned upside down in a stunner and have their throats slit and their feathers plucked. This creates the bumpy texture, also known as "goose bump" skin that is used in the making of Birkin and Prada bags as well as other "luxury" items.

According to PETA, South Africa is the ostrich-killing capital of the world. It claims the farm featured in its investigation is the exclusive supplier of the infamous Hermès Birkin bags.

Researchers saw juvenile birds tightly packed into open-topped vehicles for the journey to slaughter. Once the animals reach the abattoir, workers forcibly restrain them, electrically stun them and then cut their throats. Moments later, the feathers are torn from the birds' bodies, and they are then skinned and dismembered.

Wild ostriches can live for around 40 years, but on these farms they are slaughtered when they are one.

"Anyone who buys a bumpy Birkin bag or pockmarked Prada purse is responsible for the shocking, slaughtering, plucking, and skinning of a smart, sensitive and curious young ostrich," says PETA associate director Elisa Allen. "With so many high-end and stylish cruelty-free accessories available, PETA is calling on shoppers to bag the animal skins and shop vegan."

In a statement, Hermès said: "Contrary to what the video broadcast by [PETA] 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."