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PETA Tells Levi’s to Lose the Leather—Again

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People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) plans to take Levi Strauss & Co. (LS&Co.) to task Wednesday over its use of leather patches.

A PETA representative will attend LS&Co.’s virtual annual meeting to ask why the company is still putting leather patches on some of its jeans despite the brand’s claims of being a sustainable and ethical brand. PETA states that Levi’s sale of jeans with leather patches doesn’t support that position.

“Levi’s wants to appeal to a progressive base, but it’s missing the mark as long as it keeps marring its denim and its reputation with leather,” said Tracy Reiman, PETA executive vice president. “PETA is giving Levi’s a dressing down in the hope that it’ll scrap these patches in favor of the paper patches it already uses on most of its jeans.”

PETA’s campaign for leather alternatives underscores the impact leather production has on animal welfare and climate change. Turning animal skins into leather, PETA claims, can require the use of 130 different chemicals including cyanide, and leather production produces “massive amounts” of the greenhouse-gas emissions. A video exposé of the world’s largest leather producer revealed that cows and bulls were branded on the face, electroshocked and beaten before being slaughtered for their skin.

Denim brands such as Kings of Indigo, Nudie Jeans and Mother Denim have been praised by PETA for their choices to use vegan branding materials such as Jacron, or none at all.

This isn’t the first time that the animal welfare group targeted the denim giant over its use of leather. Prior to purchasing the minimum number of shares of LS&Co. required to submit shareholder resolutions and secure speaking rights at annual meetings, PETA called on the company to use vegan materials.

Levi’s responded at the time by pointing out that leather comprises “a small fraction” of raw materials it uses. “Nevertheless, Levi Strauss & Co. strives to source all materials responsibly,” a Levi’s spokesperson said. “Our goal is to ensure that wherever materials derived from animals are used in our products, their health and welfare are protected, in line with international animal welfare standards.”

PETA is fine-tuning its plea this time to appeal to current consumer behaviors, however.

In its question for LS&Co., the organization points out that sustainability has become a greater priority since the start of the pandemic and that consumers are increasingly aware of purchasing leather alternatives because of their concern over leather production’s impact on animals and the environment.

“Levi’s claims to be sourcing more sustainable materials, but using leather from cows is anything but sustainable, as leather production creates massive amounts of the carbon emissions that contribute to climate change,” PETA writes. “The company’s use of leather is especially unnecessary since most of its jeans already have nonleather patches.”

“When will Levi’s end its use of cruelly obtained, unsustainable leather patches?”