Published Feb. 6, 2024, 2:40 p.m. ET
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A crocodile Hermès Birkin like those carried by Jennifer Lopez, Cardi B and Kim Kardashian can cost up to half a million dollars — but the latest launch from buzzy bag brand Aupen incorporates the same exotic skin for a fraction of the price.
With its slouchy silhouette and gleaming gold hardware, the Nirvana purse ($340) has popped up on the arms of Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez; the new Nirvana Kiss ($420) swaps the original’s vegan leather construction for calfskin, and its braided handle for a buckled crocodile strap.
And this isn’t your everyday croc, either. Aupen sources its skins from Heng Long, the LVMH-owned tannery that supplies Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Fendi and more famed houses — but uses only the remnants left over from crafting larger bags that would otherwise be cast aside.
Taylor Swift brought her Nirvana bag on a date with Travis Kelce in October 2023; she also carried it at Jack Antonoff’s wedding in August.
“Because of the natural shape of the crocodile, there is significant wastage in bag production when carving out rectangular pieces, so Aupen has utilized the unused pieces in the design of our bags, breathing new life into archived material,” the brand’s design team — who prefer to stay anonymous — tells Page Six Style.
Like all luxury goods that incorporate exotic skins, the Nirvana Kiss will ship with CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) documentation that “indicates the origin of the skin used, and that it is part of a sustainable program benefiting both wildlife and local communities,” per the brand.
The strap on the new Aupen Kiss bag is made from deadstock crocodile hide.
Aupen’s been making major waves in the industry of late; the brand recently branched into jewelry, with Emma Stone becoming the first celebrity to wear one of the designs on the red carpet. (She selected the convertible Splash earrings, which start at $140.)
The Singapore- and Brooklyn-based label’s bags have also been finding new fans in Blue Ivy Carter — who carried the popular Purpose ($180) at mom Beyoncé’s “Renaissance” movie premiere in London — and Jennifer Lawrence, who’s toted her Fearless Re-Edition ($340) at least five times in the past few months.
Judging by the popularity of its past designs, it’s only a matter of time before the Nirvana Kiss gets snatched up by stars. But who will be the first to get their hands on the brand’s latest launch?
“Your guess is as good as ours,” the team tells us, playing coy. “You’ll just have to keep your eyes peeled.”
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