It is official – Nike has announced that it will stop using k-leather in soccer cleats this year.
Nike’s announcement stating its intentions comes fresh on the heels of Puma’s announcement that they were moving away from kangaroo leather. It is the Tiempo line that is primarily affected, with Nike stating it will release a new version this summer.
“This summer, Nike will launch a new boot innovation in its Tiempo franchise. The Tiempo Legend Elite will debut with a new Nike-only, proprietary synthetic upper. The upper has a new material that is a better performance solution and replaces the use of kangaroo leather. In addition, the Tiempo Premier, also set to launch this summer, will move away from the use of kangaroo leather.”
So, why the decision to do it now?
First reason could be the short film titled “Nike profits. Kangaroos die” that was released last year. It is a film that focused on Nike’s use of kangaroo leather in soccer shoes and was released as part of a global campaign to end the slaughter of wildlife for sports. Made in partnership with animal-rights group The Center for a Humane Economy (CHE), the film follows the life of Nike’s soccer cleats in a reverse sequence, from soccer field to production factory and back to the killing of wild kangaroos and their joeys in Australia.
Second could be the fact that earlier this year, a significant bill passed in Oregon which will soon prohibit the sale of any kangaroo parts or kangaroo-based products. It is a similar bill to the one that is currently in place and enforced in California. With Nike’s Beaverton headquarters based in the state, the new mandate may have played a significant role in the final decision.
What does this decision mean?
When you consider the fact that earlier this month, PUMA revealed a new direction for its signature KING silo (switching to a a new “K-BETTER” upper made from non-animal based upper materials) it means adidas are the only major brand using k-leather. What decision do they decide to make now, will the fact Nike and Puma has switched put increased pressure on them from animal activist groups?
Mizuno and New Balance are also left with difficult decisions – Mizuno are probably the best known brand in the world for their inclusion of signature MIJ (Made In Japan) k-leather uppers.
It is no secret that the kangaroo population is currently exceedingly high in Australia. It is estimated that there are approximately 43 million roos to 26 million humans. While seen as an unmistakable symbol for the country, the marsupials are also considered a pest species and the Australian goverment has sanctioned commercial harvests (or culls) to limit their population growth. Will this reduction in need for k-leather impact the decision on Australian authorities to implement culls?
Let’s be honest, if the decision by Nike means we now get to see the reintroduction of a signature, synthetic kanga-lite material like we saw on the CTR360 range, I don’t think there will be many complaints! It’s use was highly regarded as a success, so Nike has a very solid base from which they can work on creating upgraded kangaroo leather alternatives.
If you are wondering what k-leather boots are left on the market, here is the listing at SOCCER.com.