This is not a gimmick. Well, it’s sort of a gimmick, but at least it’s a gimmick you can feel good about: These jeans are actually made, in part, by zoo animals in Japan.
Before you cry animal cruelty (there’s no sweatshop labor in the animal kingdom), the best part of this arrangement is that the process is actually beneficial to the lions, tigers and bears responsible for the undeniably unique trousers.
It’s called environmental enrichment. Essentially, zoo animals need to be stimulated in captivity as they are in the wild, and introducing new activities and challenges is believed to improve their well-being.
In this case, sheets of denim are wrapped around toys like tires and rubber balls and then tossed to the big cats (and bears). The animals are left to do what they do best – tear stuff apart with glee.
Clothiers then take the fabric and sew it into the jeans, which feature a distressed look that is one-of-a-kind and also comes with a built-in story.
“So the wild rips and tears in ‘Zoo Jeans’ have been created with pure animal instinct,” according to the Mineko Club, a group of volunteer zoo supporters in Hitachi City.
Starting this week, three pairs of jeans – two lion models and one tiger model – will be auctioned to the highest bidders. The proceeds will go to the Kamine Zoo’s wildlife preservation efforts and the World Wildlife Fund.
Unsurprisingly, it is a vast improvement over earlier efforts to fund zoo-keeping activities, according to Robert Young, a professor of Wildlife Preservation at the University of Salford:
Since their inception, zoos have looked for different ways to fund their activities. London Zoo when it first opened would let in penniless visitors for [the price of] a cat or dog [that would be] be fed to the carnivores. Visitors with money were offered other things to keep themselves amused as they looked at the animals.
If that isn’t enough to pique your interest, here’s a video of the animals ripping sheets of denim to shreds. Have at it!