Zoo Jeans—Chic New Denim Trend or Animal Exploitation

A group of locals in Hitachi City, Japan are collaborating with the city’s Kamine Zoo to produce a line of jeans created with the help of the zoo’s own animals. The Mineko Club, a volunteer group hoping to boost awareness and popularity of their local zoo, have created Zoo Jeans, which brands itself as “the only jeans on earth designed by dangerous animals,” as it uses denim ripped apart by lions, tigers, and bears (oh my). Old tires and giant rubber balls wrapped in sheets of denim are tossed to the animals as playthings, and the damaged fabric is later sewn together to produce jeans.


The jeans are currently being auctioned off on Japan’s Yahoo Auctions, and proceeds will go to the World Wildlife Fund as well as to the Kamine Zoo to aid preservation efforts. As of Wednesday, the three pairs of jeans — sold as B1, T1, and L2 to indicate the animals that had a hand in the design — have raised close to $1,200.

The appeal behind Zoo Jeans does not lie only in its environmental campaign or in the look of the apparel alone, but also in the public’s fascination with the idea of wearing jeans created by wild and strong animals.

“Among animals in the zoo, tigers, lions, and bears look the most powerful and the toughest and can easily damage jeans,” Miyashita Aya, a representative for Zoo Jeans told The WILD Magazine.


While the campaign has good intentions, some have questioned the ethics behind the project, arguing that animals in captivity shouldn’t be exploited to create clothing for humans.

Zoo Jeans, however, dismisses any idea of mistreatment towards the creatures, arguing that the project always held their wellbeing as a priority.

“We believe that we could help the animals to relieve their stress by providing new toys and fun stimulus to them,” Aya said. “The toys were carefully made for safety and we never forced the animals to play with them.

“We do believe this campaign was good for animals to relieve their stress and help enrich their environment.”

In a sense, the animals are “designing” products that directly benefit themselves. And, after watching the video documenting the entire process below, it looks like they seem pretty content ripping those fabrics to shreds.

ZJ_008 ZJ_018 Tiger_back copy

All photos courtesy of Zoo Jeans.

text by: Claire Voon

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