Major brands like Puma and Nike are increasingly abandoning the use of kangaroo leather

Were you aware that numerous soccer shoes, including the iconic Puma King worn by legendary players such as Diego Maradona, Eusébio, Lothar Matthäus, and Pelé, are crafted from kangaroo leather? However, what was once considered a luxurious and top-quality material is now associated with negative connotations. For years, environmentalists and animal rights activists in Australia have been pushing for an end to the unregulated and extensive hunting of wild animals, resulting in a less favorable view of the use of kangaroo leather.

The problem at hand pertains to the use of kangaroo leather. Despite not being listed as an endangered species and even being overpopulated in certain regions, kangaroos are hunted in the wild and the actual number of animals killed remains unknown. Animal rights activists are sounding the alarm, citing declining populations in some areas and the inhumane and unregulated nature of the slaughtering process. Every year, millions of kangaroos are killed for commercial purposes, such as for meat, animal feed, and the production of leather goods, including soccer boots.

Cruelty-free options in lieu of animal exploitation.

The allegations of animal cruelty related to the use of kangaroo leather have been known for some time, prompting several fashion brands such as Versace, Prada, and Diagora to discontinue its use as early as 2020. Recently, both Nike and Puma have joined the movement towards cruelty-free production. Puma has announced that the iconic Puma King soccer shoe will now be made from a vegan material called K-Better, which includes 20 percent recycled content. Puma claims that K-Better not only serves as a vegan alternative but also surpasses the performance of its animal-based predecessor. According to Puma, K-Better has been tested and found to offer better grip, comfort, and durability, leading the company to stop producing soccer shoes made from kangaroo leather altogether this year, as stated in a press release.

Furthermore, as reported by the US trade journal Footwear News, Nike is planning to release an updated version of its Tiempo soccer shoe collection, which will no longer incorporate kangaroo leather but instead use a synthetic material. A Nike representative was quoted in the report. Meanwhile, Adidas announced in 2012 that it intended to significantly decrease its reliance on kangaroo leather, although the company does not intend to eliminate it entirely, according to various media outlets.

growing pressure.

Animal rights campaigns have been accompanied by legal actions seeking to prohibit the import or sale of kangaroo products. Recently, the European Union (EU) voted in favour of continuing to import kangaroo meat, despite ongoing pressure from animal rights activists. However, the Netherlands is currently considering a ban on kangaroo products. Similarly, the United States is experiencing a growing resistance towards kangaroo leather. In January 2023, the state of Oregon, where Nike is headquartered, introduced a bill proposing a ban on the sale of kangaroo parts. This would not be the first time a state has taken such action, as California had already prohibited the use of kangaroo leather in 2007.

The Australian kangaroo industry presents the opposing view that kangaroos live in the wild, unlike cattle and other domesticated animals that are raised for meat and leather production. They argue that kangaroos emit less methane, require less water, cause less damage to pastures, and don’t require energy-intensive breeding. As a result, the production of kangaroo leather is considered to be more eco-friendly than traditional leather and has a lower carbon footprint.

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