A crocodile skin handbag, one upon a time, was a sign of great status and wealth, something which could be found in pride of place in London’s most expensive department stores.Now, that era is at an end as Selfridges becomes the first major department store to ban exotic animal skins, following many major fashion houses.The retailer, which banned the sale of fur in 2005, said it prided itself on being a “responsible retailer and a trusted curator of brands”.Python, alligator, crocodile and lizard skins are also disappearing from the catwalk, as Chanel and Victoria Beckham are among those who have banned the material, with more expected to follow.Selfridges’ buying director Sebastian Manes said: “I am proud to confirm that exotic skins will no longer be available to purchase at Selfridges as of February 2020.”We will continue in our ambition to inspire our brands and customers through thoughtful, ethical and transparent buying strategies.” The most expensive handbag in the world is a crocodile skin Hermes BirkinCredit:REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni “Selfridges, Victoria Beckham and Chanel banning exotic skins within weeks of each other raises the bar in compassionate fashion and illustrates a shift in the industry towards innovative, high-end animal-free fabrics. We look forward to seeing more designers make the same ethical choice to stop subjecting exotic creatures to cruelty, and leave them in the wild where they belong.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. This move has been welcomed by animal rights activists. Humane Society International Executive Director Claire Bass, said “It is wonderful to see Selfridges end the sale of exotic skins, a move that will save countless crocodiles and snakes from losing their lives.”When Selfridges went fur-free more than a decade ago, it positioned itself as a retailer at the forefront of compassionate fashion. Banning exotic skins in recognition of the serious animal welfare issues that exist in this industry is a natural next step for a responsible retailer.