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Can vegans wear jeans?

This is a common question many people have regarding veganism. The quick answer is yes, vegans can wear jeans as long as they are not made from animal products. Jeans themselves are typically made of denim, which is a sturdy cotton twill textile. Cotton is a plant-based fiber that aligns with vegan ethics. However, jeans often have additional components that may derive from animals, so vegans have to pay special attention when purchasing jeans. In this article, we’ll take a more in-depth look at the factors vegans consider when buying jeans.

What do vegans avoid wearing?

Vegans avoid wearing clothing items made from animal products and by-products. This includes:

  • Leather
  • Fur
  • Wool
  • Silk
  • Down feathers
  • Bone, shell, or horn
  • Suede

These materials all require the harming or killing of animals to produce. Vegans do not want to create market demand for products that cause animal suffering. So they boycott apparel containing those ingredients.

Are jeans vegan?

The fabric of jeans is traditionally 100% cotton denim. Sometimes jeans contain a small amount of elastane or spandex for stretchability. Both cotton and elastane can be made completely from plant sources, so these components are generally vegan-friendly.

However, jeans often have extra details added during production and finishing that may involve animal materials:


The rivets on jeans, which reinforce stress points like pocket corners, are often made from copper. Some brands also use rivets made from aluminum, steel, or iron. All these metals can be processed without animals. But brass rivets may contain small amounts of zinc, which is sometimes refined using animal byproducts.


Most jeans use synthetic threads like polyester or nylon for stitching. But some denim brands opt for a signature look by stitching certain areas with silk thread. Silk comes from silkworm cocoons, so it is off-limits for vegans.

Leather Patch

A leather patch on the back waistband used to be a ubiquitous jeans detail. This patch helped to reinforce an area prone to stress and wear. Today, most jeans brands use leather-free materials like canvas or vegan leather made from plants or recycled plastics. But some designer jeans still tout small leather patches.


The distressed look of heavily faded, ripped, or patched denim has been trendy for decades. Some methods of distressing jeans involve leather or animal glues. For example, italian tanneries processing leather may provide scrap leathers to jeans makers to cut, sew, or glue onto jeans for decorative effects.


Most denim is dyed using synthetic indigo dyes. But most jeans are also washed or treated in other ways after dyeing to create worn-in fading effects. Some companies continue using techniques like sandblasting or treating fabric with stones, enzymes, or oils during the wash process. These treatments may involve animal products, so vegans have to research brand practices.


Glue derived from animals could be present in several places, like:

  • Gluing leather patches
  • Gluing pocket linings
  • Gluing seams
  • Gluing belt loops
  • Gluing buttons and rivets

Traditional animal glues were made from collagen extracted from animal skin, hooves, or bones. Today most commercial glues are synthetic or plant-based. But vegans still need to check.

How can vegans determine if jeans are vegan?

The best way is to contact the brand directly and ask if their jeans are 100% vegan. A trustworthy company should know the origins of any animal-derived ingredients like leather patches, dyes, adhesives, etc.

If the brand doesn’t advertise their jeans as vegan or can’t confirm, there are some signs vegans can look for on jeans tags and labels:

Check materials

Look at the materials list. It should only mention plant fibers like cotton, linens, synthetics like polyester or nylon, and/or metals like rivets. Any leather, silk, wool, or down would be listed if present.

Look for certifications

Some jeans advertise vegan-friendly certifications like:

  • PETA-Approved Vegan
  • Vegan Society Certification
  • Cruelty-Free

These logos indicate the jeans were audited to ensure no animal ingredients or testing during production.

Support ethical brands

Seeking out ethical and sustainable jeans brands is a good strategy. Brands committed to avoiding animal cruelty are more likely to ensure vegan production methods. B Corporations that adhere to high social and environmental standards are also a good option.

Vegan jeans materials guide

Here is a breakdown of common jeans materials, whether they are typically vegan, and some vegan alternatives:

Material Vegan? Vegan Alternatives
Denim Yes Organic cotton denim
Spandex/Elastane Yes Econyl (recycled nylon fiber)
Rivets Sometimes Iron, aluminum, stainless steel, or copper rivets
Stitching Sometimes Polyester, nylon, or other synthetic threads
Pocket lining Sometimes Cambric or twill cotton, or tencel lyocell
Leather patch No Canvas, vegan leather, recycled rubber
Distressing Sometimes Laser etching, ozone fading, sandblasting, and hand distressing techniques
Dyes Usually Synthetic indigo or vegetable dyes
Adhesives Sometimes Rubber cement glues or synthetic epoxy

Finding vegan jeans

Luckily for vegans, there are now many ethical jeans brands that avoid animal products. Here are some recommended vegan jeans brands to check out:

Matt & Nat

This Canadian brand uses sustainable materials like recycled plastic bottles to create their vegan leather patches and trims. All their jeans are certified vegan.


Noize sources eco-friendly plant-based materials like organic cotton denim and natural rubber for their jeans. Everything is animal-free.

The R Collective

This UK brand produces jeans using sustainable processes like ozone fading instead of sandblasting. Their entire collection is certified by The Vegan Society.

MUD Jeans

This Dutch brand employs technology to recycle and upcycle old denim into new jeans styles. All pairs are rated A+ for ethical production.

Good Guys Don’t Wear Leather

With a name like this, it’s clear this brand avoids all animal products! Their jeans use innovative cactus leather and natural dyes.

Nudie Jeans

This Swedish denim company has a transparent production chain and focuses on durability and timeless design. All Nudie jeans are vegan.

DIY vegan jeans

Crafty vegans can also make their own jeans at home! Here are some tips:

Start with new denim fabric

Purchase yards of organic, undyed denim fabric. Pre-wash the fabric 2-3 times on a gentle cycle before sewing to minimize shrinkage.

Pattern and fit

Use a commercial pattern that fits your measurements, or create your own pattern from an existing pair of jeans that fit well. Adjust to your desired silhouette.


Polyester or recycled polyester thread works well for topstitching and assembling denim. Sturdy needles and thread are important to get clean stitching and avoid breakage.

Rivets and hardware

Iron, copper, aluminum and galvanized metals can provide that classic denim jean hardware look without leather. Use vegan leather or recycled rubber for tags and patches.


Add personalized ripped knees, fading or bleach spots using sandpaper, scrapers, or applying bleach with fabric stencils.


Finding vegan jeans is much easier now thanks to innovative brands using sustainable practices and animal-free materials. But vegans do need to carefully examine jeans construction since animal products can sneak in. When buying jeans, a fiber content listing cotton, lyocell, polyester, nylon and metals is a good sign. And support for third-party vegan certifications indicates a brand is diligent about animal-free production. With all the great vegan denim options available today, vegans can stay true to their ethics and still rock a classic pair of jeans.