Many longtime Hermes lovers will be familiar with Amazonia, the leather-like rubber produced around the turn of the century, but few know the whole story:
The Amazon is the only place where rubber trees grow in the wild, and it first became a hit with Europeans in the late 19th century. In 1876 the first Para Rubber Tree seeds were smuggled out of Brazil and went on to spawn the vast rubber plantations that quickly spread over the rich jungles of Southeast Asia. The explosion of production went hand in hand with an increase in demand. Rubber became vital for automobiles and war machines. Brazil's natural hand-tapping methods struggled to keep up with the monoculture plantations of the east. The government's efforts to compete came very much at the expense of the people, who were forced by the tens of thousands to travel north and work for long hours with little or no pay in the harsh and unfamiliar Amazon rainforest. Thirty thousand of them died during the effort from tropical diseases and wild animal attacks. Many of those that survived chose to remain in the rainforest after the war, rather than risk the long and treacherous journey home, which would be undertaken at their own cost. These former ‘Rubber Soldiers” as they’re known continued to tap the native trees in the traditional ways they’d been trained and continued to produce this unique wild rubber. But the Amazon Rainforest is under constant attack, and by the 1970’s clashes between peaceful rubber tappers and the cattle ranchers clearing more and more forest for grazing came into public view. Led by Chico Mendes, the rubber tappers lobbied the government to protect the Amazon, and support traditional and sustainable activities like wild rubber tapping, medicinal plant collection, and harvesting fruits and nuts. These efforts led to wide reaching support to protect the Amazon, but after Chico Mendes’ assassination outside his home in December 1988 by a cattle rancher whose plans he’d opposed, support exploded, spurring the creation of even greater swaths of protected rainforest. Today, rubber tappers continue to work in protected lands and go further than ever in locally processing the material into high quality rubber that can be sold to manufacturers all over the world, including for a time in the late 1990's and early 2000's Hermes. One benefit of Amazonia Rubber was its weight, and Hermes leaned in to this with a simplified Toile canvas interior with two hanging leather slip pocket, though with age, this natural rubber, which is applied over a woven canvas and vulcanized on location in the jungle, dries out, cracks, and discolors. As was the case with this 35cm Birkin from 2002. The bag itself is done with Maron Fonce calf box trim, making the Amazonia rubber subtle, almost matching, though this example has undergone a dramatic transformation. Gold leaf has been applied over the rubber, allowing for the cracks and rough edges to come through. It's not only beautiful, shining in the sun, always catching the eye, but deeper it's a strong metaphor for the value of the Amazon Rainforest. This resource is a precious as gold, and should be admired for its natural beauty. The cracks making their way inward visually reference the rivers that penetrate the depths of the jungle, but they're also a reminder of the encroachment of industry that takes away the beauty.
Another incredible Hermes creation from the JaneFinds Custom Shop One of one. Exclusive. Work with our designers and give new life to your vintage, or new, Hermes Kelly and Birkin bags, and other bags. Make it truly unique and your own.
Brand: Hermes + JaneFinds Custom Shop
Custom Shop Design: "L'Amazone d'Or" JaneFinds Theme
Material: Box Leather
Country of Origin: France + USA
Where used in this sale the term "hardware" refers to the metallic parts of the bag, such as the buckle hardware, base studs, lock and keys and/or strap, which are plated with a coloured finish (e.g. gold, silver, palladium). The terms "Gold Hardware", "Silver Hardware", "Palladium Hardware" etc. refer to the tone or colour of the hardware and not the actual material used. If the bag incorporates solid metal hardware this will be referenced in the lot description.
Store Fresh - No indication of wear, all plastic on hardware, never worn, essentially as new.
Pristine - Little to no indication of handling, usually with all plastic on hardware and most likely never worn.
Excellent - Very minor evidence of handling.
Very Good - Evidence of wear and handling, with no major flaws.
Good - Moderate wear and is fully functional.
Fair - Moderate wear and has condition issues that may or may not be repairable.