(Reuters) – Nike said it will stop using kangaroo skins for its shoes this year, weeks after a similar step from German rival Puma, which would end a highly controversial practice that has drawn ire from consumers and animal rights activists.
Sportswear giant Nike Inc in a statement issued on Monday said it would debut a new line of Tiempo football boots, called the Tiempo Legend Elite, with a proprietary synthetic material that replaces the use of kangaroo leather.
The Tiempo Premier line of football boots, which is set to launch this summer, will also forego kangaroo skin, Nike said. The company ended its partnership with its only kangaroo leather supplier in 2021, it added.
The decision from Nike and Puma to end the use of kangaroo skin in their football boots comes as a big win for animal welfare activists, who have for long urged companies to drop unethical practices involving animal cruelty.
“Nike’s announcement…is a seismic event in wildlife protection, and tremors will be felt all over the world, especially in Australia where the mass commercial slaughter of kangaroos occurs,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of the Center for a Humane Economy, on Tuesday.
The group has spearheaded the “Kangaroos Are Not Shoes” campaign, which it announced in 2020, and has been key behind introducing legislation banning the import and sale of kangaroo products.
A growing generation of younger, environmentally conscious shoppers have also pressed for more sustainability from clothing companies.
Gucci owner Kering SA, Italy’s Prada and luxury parka maker Canada Goose Holdings Inc have all ditched the use of animal fur in their collections over the last few years.
California has not allowed products made from kangaroos to be sold or imported into the state since 1971.
(Reporting by Deborah Sophia in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri)