Levi’s launches sustainable plant-based 501 jeans following calls from vegans to ditch the leather patches

Author: Maria Chiorando

Read Time:   |  13th July 2023

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Levi's new jeans have ditched the leather panel and replaced it with a plant-based patch made from a plastic-free material called Mirum


As part of its celebrations marking the 150th anniversary of its 501 jeans, Levi’s has launched three new sustainable variants – including a plant-based pair.

The new plant-based 501 jeans are made from least 97 per cent plant-based materials, according to the brand.

Featuring denim made from 100 per cent certified organic cotton OCS (Organic Cotton Standard), the jeans are dyed with plant-based indigo produced by Stony Creek Colors.

And in a move that will please vegan activists who have long requested it, Levi’s has ditched the leather back patch.

Instead, it is made from a plant-based, plastic-free material called Mirum, created by Natural Fiber Welding.

The other two pairs of sustainable jeans include one made from a hemp-cotton blend and one from Circulose, an innovative cellulosic fibre obtained by recycling secondhand clothes.

The new 501 jeans boast a range of sustainable, plant-based features. Image source: levistrauss.com

The new 501 jeans boast a range of sustainable, plant-based features. Image source: levistrauss.com



Paul Dillinger, VP Design Innovation at Levi Strauss & Co, said in a statement: “As a company that has been manufacturing 501 jeans for 150 years, we have an opportunity and a responsibility to continually question their manufacturing process.

“These jeans are the result of our past research directed toward pursuing circularity and, at the same time, represent the starting point for future innovations.”

Una Murphy, Design Innovation director at Levi’s, added: “In our research and development work, we strive to improve design practices and preserve environmental resources in every way possible.

“By incorporating sustainable innovation into all products, we learn what is possible and how to try to solve some of the biggest environmental challenges.”

Vegan activists

The launch follows years of advocacy from vegan activists, who have called on the brand to ditch its leather patches.

Animal rights organisation PETA has, in the past, called into question fashion giant Levi’s commitment to sustainability and progressive practices due to the environmental footprint of leather, and because of the treatment of animals used for their skins by the fashion industry.

The group even launched a petition calling on the brand urging the brand to switch to vegan leather for their jean patches, which has garnered more than 118,000 signatures.

According to the petition: “More and more consumers around the world are recognising that it’s unacceptable to abuse and kill animals to make clothing and that leather isn’t a mere by-product, or left-over, of the meat industry. 

“It’s an industry worth over $100 billion a year. Leather is an economically co-dependent product made to meet consumer demand, and it’s often more profitable than the flesh of the animal. 

“It’s now also widely recognised that animal agriculture – including the industries producing its co-products, such as leather – is a leading contributor to climate change. 

“Committing to using only vegan leather on its jean patches would be an easy first step toward legitimising the company’s claims of being a sustainable and compassionate industry leader.”

Looking to create a plant-based wardrobe, but confused about where to start? Check out our guide to the myths behind vegan fashion

Featured photo © Levi’s®, edited by VFL


Written by

Maria Chiorando

Maria is an editor and journalist. Her work has been published by the Huffington Post, the Guardian, TechnoBuffalo, Plant Based News, and Kent on Sunday among other national and regional titles.

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