Designer jeans go wild for a good cause

A Japanese zoo has launched its own line of jeans called “Zoo Jeans”. The designer jeans are ripped and distressed by actual lions, tigers and bears to raise funds for wildlife conservation projects. Susanne Steffen reports from Tokyo.


A group of lions pounce on the old tires that were carefully placed in their enclosure as toys. As though the tires were zebra that they had just killed, the animals tear and gnaw at the jeans fabric, which a zookeeper had wrapped and sewn tightly around the tires.

With fangs and claws

It only takes a few minutes before the animals have made the first rips and holes into the fabric with their fangs and razor-sharp claws. Sometimes one of the animals is even able to remove the fabric from the tire altogether – as though it were skinning a zebra.

After two hours the fun comes to an end. One of the workers then takes the fabric out of the enclosure and brings it to a jeans factory that specialises in design pieces in Okayama Prefecture. A total of four “Zoo Jeans” have been made this way so far in the Kamine Zoo in Hitachi City, just north of Tokyo.

Designed by lions and bears

Two “lion models”, one “created” by tigers and another by bears are being auctioned online, with this one-of-a-kind pieces going for several hundred thousand yen. But the Zoo Jeans aren’t about creating a new business model; rather, the proceeds will be donated to the zoo and other wildlife conservation projects.

The idea came from a Toyko advertising executive who wanted to thank the zoo for many a happy childhood memory. Zoo director Nobutaka Namae was initially sceptical but decided to go ahead with the experience since the zoo has anyhow been using tires and balls as toys for the predators.

Surprisingly tear-proof

“The denim was actually much tougher than we had thought, and it turned out nicely destroyed,” said Namae when introducing the jeans to the press a few days ago. The ripped jeans are proof of just how strong the animals are: When people have tried to rip them with their teeth, they can only make a tiny hole in the denim.

But in the fickle world of fashion it does not seem that the Zoo Jeans are destined to set a new trend. British media have been citing a fashion buyer for the London department store Selfridges who said that “the rips are too sporadic” and they “don’t look natural”. Tell that to the lions.


Photo credit: Screenshot Zoo Jeans

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