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What Do Those Symbols on Shoes Mean?

It can be tricky to tell whether shoes are cruelty-free or not. Sometimes, the tags or boxes don’t say what materials that pair is made from. Instead, there might be a few funny-looking shapes. Let’s figure out what those symbols mean so that you can tell whether shoes or other items of clothing are vegan.


Shoe symbol leather

This symbol means that a pair of shoes is made from leather. It’s easy to remember, because it looks like the shape of an animal’s skin. Yuck! We don’t want to buy anything labeled with this symbol.

Coated Leather

Shoe symbol coated leather

Another symbol to watch out for looks like the one for leather but with a diamond inside it. It means that the item is made from coated leather, which still comes from an animal. Stay away from shoes labeled with this one, too!


Shoe symbol textile fabric

The textile symbol means that the item is made from a fabric such as cotton or any other vegan material. If you see this symbol and not the ones that represent leather or coated leather, those shoes are good to buy!

Other Materials

Shoe Symbol good other materials

The diamond symbol means that the shoes are made from materials that aren’t leather, coated leather, or textiles—and that includes faux leather, PVC, and rubber. Shoes labeled with this symbol and not the leather or coated leather ones are also good to buy, as the diamond represents man-made materials, NOT animal skins!

Why Don’t We Wear Leather?

Leather is made from the skin of an animal, usually a cow, but it can even come from other animals, including cats and dogs. Not only is the way that real leather is made gross, sad, and ALL kinds of wrong, it’s also super-bad for the environment. The chemicals used to stop the skin from decaying are very toxic and poisonous to the planet as well as to the people who make leather.

Sometimes, you’ll see the word “suede” on shoes and clothing. This is just another word for leather. But just like there’s faux leather, you can also get faux suede. 🙂

A Few Other Things to Look Out For

Besides leather, there are a few other materials that aren’t vegan that you’ll want to avoid when you shop for shoes or clothing. Always check the tags, and don’t buy anything with a label that lists any of the following materials:

  • Fur
  • Wool
  • Down
  • Silk