Vegan actor and Academy Award nominee James Cromwell used his star power to turn up the heat on Adidas.
The Emmy Award-winning actor was part of a protest at the Adidas flagship store in SoHo on Sept. 2. The campaign wants the German athletic brand to stop “slaughtering” kangaroos for their skin to make soccer cleats, according to the Center for a Humane Economy.
“We are here to implore Adidas to stop killing kangaroos. They kill kangaroos in order to make shoes, but they don’t need to,” Cromwell said in a video provided by the Washington, D.C.-based animal-rights nonprofit. “Don’t support them. Don’t buy the shoes. And if they refuse to change, think about boycotting them.”
Store representatives couldn’t be reached for comment. Though Adidas did not respond to requests for comment, it previously told Sourcing Journal that it opposes “kangaroos being killed in an inhumane or cruel manner,” and that their leather comprises “significantly below” 1 percent of its total product material mix. “We source the leather exclusively from suppliers that are monitored and certified by the Australian government, ensuring both animal welfare and the conservation of species,” it added.
The protest video shows the “Babe: Pig in the City” actor addressing a crowd and urging Adidas to swap k-leather for cruelty-free materials. Cromwell and other activists chanted “kangaroos are not shoes, just stop the slaughter” and joined “hundreds” of animal-rights champions “who continued the protest behind police barricades.”
“James Cromwell is a dynamic force for animals, and we are elated that he is applying his credibility and star power to help us speak out for kangaroos,” Jennifer Skiff, director of international for the Center for a Humane Economy, said in a statement.
The Labor Day weekend protest supported the animal welfare group’s “Kangaroos Are Not Shoes” campaign to “secure a commitment from athletic shoe companies to rid their supply chains of kangaroo skins.” It was organized by New York-based animal rights organization TheirTurn.
The protest also appeared to be part of the Animal Liberation March, which targeted Adidas, Louis Vuitton, Dior and Fendi, according to a Facebook post.
“Chasing down…terrified kangaroos in the dark of the night and slaughtering them for their skin is unconscionable,” Donny Moss, an activist who runs local campaigns and produces videos for TheirTurn, said. “Adidas needs to join Nike and Puma in making the switch to cruelty-free materials.”
“Kangaroos Are Not Shoes” also aims to bring awareness of the commercial kangaroo industry in Australia, which “emerged as the responsible alternative to conservation culling” to maintain a sustainable kangaroo population and “ensure no meat or skins end up in landfill,” according to the Kangaroo Industry Association of Australia. The center estimates that 1.7 million wild kangaroos are needlessly killed every year, primarily due to k-leather demand.
“It heartens us to see the incredible response to our efforts to protect kangaroos from such needless slaughter,” Joseph Grove, director of communications for the Center for a Humane Economy, said. “People really do care about these animals, and companies like Adidas need to listen to them, or else be prepared for the inevitable backlash they are experiencing now.”
Last month, a bipartisan congressional group introduced the Kangaroo Protection Act, which would ban the sale of kangaroo body parts in the U.S. A similar bill aiming to prohibit profiting from kangaroo skins was proposed in early 2021.