How annoying is it when you find a pair of jeans—nay, the pair of jeans—but there’s a no-good leather patch on the waistband serving no purpose other than to make a perfectly good pair of otherwise vegan jeans unethical to buy? Heck! The frustration is real, especially when shopping online because brands don’t appear to be required to list the components of their patches in the descriptions. Don’t be tricked. Leather is a product of cruelty to animals, who are slaughtered for it, and exacerbates climate change and resultant wildfires. Buying vegan jeans should be easy, so use this list of our favorite skin-free designer jeans as a guide.
VEGAN JEANS BRANDS THAT DON’T USE LEATHER PATCHES
Express stopped using leather patches on its jeans, which are available in a variety of styles for women and men.
Body-positive brand Good American has leather patch–free jeans from size 00 to 32, so you’re sure to find your perfect fit.
Keep up with the latest denim trends at PacSun, a surf- and skate-inspired brand with leather patch–free jeans.
This brand makes really cute jeans that are seriously sustainable. Not only does Boyish avoid leather patches, it also recycles water, plants trees, uses natural plant-based dyes, and more.
If the thought of a pair of affordable vegan jeans has you jogging jegging to the mall, we recommend shopping for bottoms at Topshop, where everyone knows leather patch–free is the way to be.
Raising cows for their skin and flesh is responsible for 80% of the deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest. Nudie Jeans used to use leather patches, but PETA stopped objecting to this brand when it switched to using recycled paper. Now that’s what we call changing with the times. Learn about it, Madewell.
Not putting leather patches on jeans isn’t a lofty goal these days (looking at you, Levi’s), and that’s why none of LOFT’s jeans carry a wee badge of shame on the waistband. A leather patch–free backside—we love to see it.
With Kuyichi’s sustainable and organic clothing options, you can dress to kill without killing to dress. How do you like them apple(bottom)s?
No leather patch, no problem. UNIQLO is leather patch–free, and you can take that to the bank—and then buy another pair of these jeans, because they’re super-affordable.
MOTHER must know that cows love their babies and that breeding them only to kill and skin their families is the mother of all normalized violence. Look good and feel good about wearing this brand’s jeans, because all its patches are made of vegan leather. Look, ma, no animal suffering!
Patches? We don’t need no stinkin’ patches! That’s probably not a direct quote, but this brand’s apparent no-patch policy reigns supreme, and that’s why we stan jeans under the Ella (ella ella eh eh eh) Moss label.
According to this company’s website, “amo” is “the Latin root word for love,” which is fitting, because we’re enamored of this brand for not only passing on leather patches but also not using any leather at all!
Whether you like skinny, slim, relaxed fit, boot-cut, flare, or wide-leg jeans, Gap has you covered with all the denim and none of the leather.
BRANDS THAT USE LEATHER PATCHES BUT HAVE SOME VEGAN JEANS
We genuinely don’t understand why these brands use leather—especially when they already sell jeans with vegan patches or make jeans with no patch at all. To avoid any “I accidentally bought leather” mishaps, we suggest not ordering from these brands online, because their websites don’t list leather in the descriptions even if the patches are made of it. To be safe, it’s best to shop at a physical store, where you can check the tag in person.
Levi’s own website says that it has “always stood up for what’s right” and goes on and on about sustainability. But anyone who knows how violently cruel and unsustainable leather is knows that the company is trying to fool shoppers by greenwashing while it profits from the sale of unethical and environmentally devastating leather items. While the brand’s forward-thinking “Plant-Based 501” style is a good step, dropping leather patches altogether would be the truly innovative move.
If you see a patch that looks like one of these, it’s made from paper and no cows were harmed for it:
But if it looks like one of these, stay away, because it’s made of leather:
And don’t be fooled by the company’s “Sustainable” logo. Some of the jeans with this claim still have a leather patch, which is inherently unsustainable.
This brand has jeans with and without patches, but they aren’t cut from the same cloth. All the patches that this store uses are animal-derived, so be sure to opt for its patch-free jeans.
Some brands may tell you that the leather they use is a “byproduct of the meat industry,” but they’re wrong. Leather is a coproduct of the meat industry—always. The two industries prop each other up. If you see a pair of AGOLDE jeans with a patch, steer clear, but most of its jeans don’t have patches.
This brand makes patch-free vegan jeans that look like this:
Just be sure to avoid its jeans with leather patches that look like this:
Some of Joe’s jeans have leather patches, but many styles don’t have any patches at all. When shopping for this company’s jeans, avoid the ones with patches and you’ll be in the clear.
If you wouldn’t wear a little sign saying to anyone checking out your bum, “I don’t care if I pay for cows to suffer,” choose Rag & Bone jeans without patches, because all its patches are leather.
Don’t buy these:
THESE BRANDS OFFER ONLY ANIMAL-SKIN (LEATHER) PATCHES
These brands don’t offer any leather-free jeans options. When they sell a pair, an animal suffers. Please e-mail them directly, asking that they stop using animal-derived leather. If enough people do this, these greedy brands will see that they’re losing money as a result of their cruel and unnecessary choices and may be forced to change.
Citizens of Humanity
HOW YOU CAN HELP COWS
Cows are sensitive animals who show affection to those they love and even have best friends. Don’t buy jeans with patches of cows’ skin on them, even if the patch is really small and the jeans are otherwise cute or on sale. Paying a brand to exploit animals for something as trivial as a decorative patch when countless animal-friendly options exist sends the message that you support this cruelty. Exploitative companies need to see that they’re doing something wrong—that people don’t approve—and that if they want our business, they must change.
Tell your friends and family to check the label on jeans before buying them, and share this guide so that everyone knows what great options are available and can see that resorting to leather patches is never necessary. And tell companies such as Levi’s that think it’s cool to kill animals and turn their skin into a patch that it’s not.
You are what you buy. Our choices are the patchwork of who we are. When it comes to selecting food, clothing, and personal-care products, go with ones that are animal-free and sustainable—because anything else would be cruel and destructive, and that’s just not the right vibe.