“Hej vegans, our beef is over” – that’s how Swedish brand Nudie Jeans announced stepping away from using leather for their range of denims. We’re celebrating this with a fashion special featuring some of the first pieces of that new, vegan range and by looking back on our open letter from back in the day. We’ve come a long way, Nudie.
Words_ Eric Mirbach
Photos_ Brix & Maas
Muse_ Mimir / Modelwerk
When we urged Nudie Jeans to consider discontinuing the leather patch on their jeans in our issue #04, we actually mentioned jacron as a possible alternative. Fast forward to late 2018 and the first range of vegan denim by Nudie Jeans is out, complete with a patch made from the paper-based material***.
There’s a lot of good reasons to critizise the use of leather. Hundreds of years of building “tradition” and vast amounts of marketing money have been invested into linking the material to attributes like “genuine”, “natural” and “long lasting” when in reality, it’s a global industry killing a billion animals a year* for their skin and using a toxic tanning process to prevent them from rotting.
“Eco-friendly leather is a myth”
The tanning is especially problematic. Communities surrounding tanneries in India, Kentucky, and Sweden report high instances of leukemia and cancer, and the chemicals used to tan leather, including heavy metals like chromium, find their way into water supplies and river systems.**
Meanwhile, eco-friendly leather is a myth, according to vegan fashion designer Joshua Katcher.
“Based simply on the amount of resources it takes to raise animals – from feed crops, pastureland, water, and fossil fuels, to the record-breaking amounts of greenhouse gasses emitted by cattle – livestock production is the #1 cause of greenhouse gas emissions – even if, at the very final stage of this environmentally devastating process, a ‘vegetable-based’ tanning process is used, it does not erase the colossal leather boot-print that raising livestock has on ecosystems,” Katcher states.
“A symbol of domination and power – so basically sex”
Behind that deception, the real connection to leather as a “material” is of a very emotional nature. Just like fur, leather is a symbol of domination and by that a symbol of power (which equals sex – which explains everything).
Letting go of a position of power can be a painful process, especially when the underlying conflicts are not adressed – and that pain manifests in the commentary section of the “Hej Vegans”-posts on Nudie’s social channels as you read this. But: Nudie Jeans opting out of using leather patches for their jeans is another important step to dismantle these cemented beliefs we need to overcome.
We here at Vegan Good Life have been fans of the brand for years and have always hoped for them to come around. Even though they’re not crossing leather products off their list entirely, seeing them replacing the leather patch with jacron gives us so much hope and feels so inclusive. Thank you, Nudie, you rule!
*According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
** The Discerning Brute: Leather Jackets
*** The jacron patch on Nudie’s new jeans is made from recycled paper that include a small amount of acrylic polymer – “The added polymer is the least sustainable element with our new patches, but it was also necessary to be able to give the patch the strength needed for its longevity,” says Eliina Brinkberg, Environmental manager at Nudie Jeans.