Non-natives must be able to position ourselves as active and integral participants in a decolonization movement for political liberation, social transformation, renewed cultural kinships and the development of an economic system that serves rather than threatens our collective life on this planet. Decolonization is as much a process as a goal. It requires a profound recentring on Indigenous worldviews. Syed Hussan, a Toronto-based activist, states: ‘Decolonization is a dramatic reimagining of relationships with land, people and the state. Much of this requires study. It requires conversation. It is a practice; it is an unlearning.’
I got a response from my email to Nudie Jeans regarding their use of leather patches. The company’s manager of corporate social responsibility wrote the following (introduction omitted):
We have a major part of all our leather items made by vegetable tanned leather, a more sustainable way of tanning to avoid the chemicals normally used when tanning. ( although all our leather products are made in Italy following the EU laws and regulations for allowed chemicals)
The animals used for leather is coming from the food industry, meaning they are not killed just for their skin.
As you know we have high aims for being sustainable in every aspect of our work, for the leather patches on the jeans however we have so far not been able to make it by vegetable tanned. The reason is that when you eventually wash your jeans, the leather patch with vegetable tanned leather shrink and becomes all hard and not nice looking. So for the comfort of the jeans we have at the moment no other choice. ( the chemically tanned leather makes the leather still soft after washing) But our suppliers are making tests to develop new ways of adjusting this- hopefully in the future we can offer a vegetable tanned leather patch on the jeans with as well.
I wrote back to clarify that regardless of how the leather is tanned or where it comes from, I will not be buying their jeans as long as they contain animal products. She wrote back with the hope that they can match my standard somewhere in the future.
My old Nudies are worn out. I’d love to buy more (they are the best jeans I’ve ever owned, hands down), but they’re not vegan-friendly thanks to that nasty little leather patch. I just sent them the following letter, and I thought I’d post it here as well to spread awareness. If you have any suggestions for leather-free raw denim jeans, drop me a line!
I wrote to you many months ago asking if there was any chance you might make some jeans without leather patches, and I never got a response. I have a pair of your jeans that I absolutely love, but my conscience can’t support buying another leather product - especially one so completely frivolous (it ends up being covered by my belt anyway).
The leather industry contributes to the torture and slaughter of more than a billion animals a year, and then tans their skins with toxic chemicals that pollute huge volumes of water. I’m thrilled to see that Nudie jeans are now made from 100% organic cotton, and I hope you will consider extending this philosophy of environmental consciousness to the animals that needlessly suffer and die for your logos.
I’m disappointed that you didn’t think my question was worth answering. Since I last contacted you, my old Nudies have finally worn out, and I will soon be looking for a leather-free pair of jeans from one of your competitors. If you do decide to offer such a product in the future, I would be thrilled to buy it.
I look forward to your response. I will be posting a copy of this note at nefstead.ca as an open letter, and I would be pleased to also post any statement on this issue that you might want me to share.