Are your jeans distressed by lions?

If you are the sort to shell out over a thousand dollars for a pair of jeans “designed by tigers”, then you have until July 21. Animal conservationists are marketing this bizarre idea to you. Even if you won’t buy the jeans you might feel like you are contributing to the welfare of the poor beasts.

Japanese brand Zoo Jeans includes wild beasts in their design process to create the perfect pair of ripped denim. In order to do this, sheets of material are added to old tires and giant rubber balls and tossed into the animals’ cages at Kamine Zoo in Hitachi, Japan. The lions and tigers then have the chance to chew, gnaw, and scrape at the fabric, taking “distressed denim” to the extreme.

Do they even realise how cruel this is? Lions and tigers are carnivores; they tear into pliable flesh. Bears are omnivores. Denim does not smell or feel like skin or plants, and rubber has a unique scent and feel. The animals probably assume they will be rewarded after they’ve got rid of the ‘excess baggage’.

The zoo and World Wildlife Fund are being horribly insensitive, and to think this is to benefit the animals. WWF and People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) rant about ill-treatment; they file complaints against cosmetics and pharmaceutical companies for using animals as guinea pigs. They have a point, but they aren’t doing any better.

These organisations have a history of regressive ads that put human models behind cages, chain them, or make them wear edible clothes. At the same time they use loaded, even sexual, imagery. With Zoo Jeans too, ripped by animals has a certain ring. It defeats the purpose. They end up perpetuating an idea they claim to oppose – that of the ‘wild beast’ as fantasy.

© Farzana Versey