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Levi’s Bows Hiking Boot as PETA Takes Aim at Brand’s Stance on Animal Welfare

Rivet’s 2021 winter issue has dropped! This in-depth issue examines the steps the global denim industry is taking to minimize its impact on the environment, from implementing zero waste production and design processes to establishing greenhouse gas emissions goals aligned with the Paris Agreement.

Recycled and recyclable materials are key ingredients in Levi’s latest footwear venture.

The heritage denim label partnered with The Woolmark Company, a subsidiary of Australian Wool Innovation, a not-for-profit enterprise that conducts research, development, and marketing on behalf of about 60,000 woolgrowers, to develop a Woolmark-certified hiking boot described as both high performance and sustainable.

Made with Leather Working Group-certified nubuck leather uppers, Levi’s men’s Torsten Quilted hiking boot is lined with 100 percent natural Australian merino wool felt, a renewable, biodegradable and recyclable fiber known for its natural breathability and moisture-management properties.

The inner lining of the shoe is designed to maintain structure and shape, while rubber outsoles and recycled OrthoLite insoles provide a “naturally smooth stride,” Levi’s stated. Eco-friendly Cordura is used in the shoe’s construction to enhance durability.

The boot, which retails for $164 (or 120 pounds), is available in Levi’s stores and website in European markets.

The inclusion of merino wool in Levi’s boot, according to John Roberts, Australian Wool Innovation CEO, highlights the fiber’s versatility and sustainable footprint—qualities that are growing in importance to consumers.

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“Merino wool is increasingly present in the world of the younger generations, who care not only about performances but also about durable and environmentally friendly materials,” he said.

Levi’s debuted a hiking boot in partnership with The Woolmark Company that it touts as meeting sustainability and animal welfare standards.
Levi’s Torsten Quilted hiking boot Courtesy

sustainability report published in September addresses Levi’s renewed commitment to sourcing wool as well as down and leather in accordance with best practices in animal welfare and environmental sustainability. In the report, Levi’s states that it abides by credible, third-party standards and “explicitly prohibits the use of materials from vulnerable, threatened or endangered species.”

By 2025, it pledged that all virgin wool in new products will be Responsible Wool Standard-certified.

The guidelines also state that all animal-derived materials in new products should be sourced from animals cultivated for meat production, with the only exceptions being materials taken from recycled feedstocks or those that can be safely and humanely harvested without slaughter. The company added that it will enhance traceability for its animal-derived materials.

Levi’s updated animal welfare guidelines, however, drew the ire of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). In response to Levi’s latest animal welfare guidelines, PETA recently submitted a shareholder resolution asking the company to commission a report on the slaughter methods used to procure leather so the organization could determine whether or not they actually measure up to the brand’s new standards.

“If animal welfare and transparency truly matter to Levi’s, it should jump at the chance to make these practices known,” said Tracy Reiman, PETA executive vice president. “PETA is pushing Levi’s to honor its commitments, and we’re issuing a reminder that whenever leather is involved, there’s cruelty in every stitch.”

The animal rights organization has a long-standing track record of pressuring Levi’s to ramp up its animal welfare efforts, calling on the company to cease using leather patches. In 2019, PETA purchased just enough stock to submit shareholder resolutions and secure speaking rights at Levi’s annual meetings, thus giving it more influence over the company’s sourcing processes.

When the organization brought up its concerns during a September investor meeting, Levi’s stated that leather comprises “a small fraction” of raw materials it uses, and it ensures the “health and welfare” of the animals in question are protected, “in line with international animal welfare standards.” It added that it still has a ways to go in the cultivation of responsible fibers and is dedicated to continuously innovating.