A Crocodile's Bumpy Road From Farm to Handbag

A growing business provides the exotic skins wealthy buyers love
Photograph by Mark Baker/Reuters

These days, women of every economic stripe can be seen carrying pricey leather handbags. Not so with totes made of crocodile, one of the most difficult luxury materials to obtain, especially in the pristine condition wealthy fashionistas expect. As demand from the world’s elite surges for the skins, luxury goods companies such as LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton and Kering, the owner of Gucci, are making acquisitions to secure a supply of the beasts, whose habits make even collecting their eggs a matter of life and death. Keeping crocodiles from scratching or biting each other as you raise them from hatchling to arm candy is another major challenge.

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