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Nudie Jeans Ditches Leather for Vegan Paper-Based Denim Patches

The proof is in the paper. When it comes to sustainability, Nudie Jeans considers every component of a pair of jeans.

The brand recently announced that it’s replacing leather back patches on its jeans with a vegan paper-based alternative, starting with its Fall ’18 collection.

“Even today the traceability of leather is difficult, and the production processes are resource intense. Not to mention the questionable and sometimes horrific situation for the animals. We know this, and we wanted to find an option where leather was not necessary,” said Eliina Brinkberg, Nudie Jeans environmental manager.

The company says it has been looking for an alternative option to replace the leather patch for some time now. The search for a viable alternative that could withstand the daily wear and tear of a consumer and live through washes in production for prewashed products was a challenge.

But Nudie Jeans’ efforts proved fruitful when it found a Jacron patch made from recycled paper that mimics the look of leather.

The patch includes a small amount of acrylic polymer, which Brinkberg concedes is the least sustainable element of the new patch. However, she added, “it was also necessary to be able to give the patch the strength needed for its longevity.”

“We are happy to now offer leather-free denim, and to give our customers the possibility to choose whether or not they want to wear leather,” Brinkberg added.

The vegan alternative reinforces Nudie Jeans’ commitment to sustainable resources. Along with using 100 percent organic cotton throughout its denim collection, the Swedish brand is transparent about its production, offers free repairs, sells secondhand jeans and offers consumers a trade-in program.

Veganism may be the next big idea for denim brands to factor into their product lines.

Candiani Denim recently launched a vegan version of its water-saving Kitotex technology. Made with mushrooms, seaweed and renewable elements found in nature, Kitotex Vegetal was made in response to some concerns about the original version using recycled exoskeleton of shrimp—a food industry byproduct—to achieve its sustainable properties.

And animal rights activist group PETA has caught on to idea. The organization is calling for its followers to write to Levi’s to urge the brand to replace animal skin with vegan leather.

“We’re glad that [Nudie Jeans] has decided to ditch leather. Vegan fashion is here to stay—but companies like Levi’s refuse to get with the times,” PETA wrote.