Footwear Industry

The leather footwear industry is huge: the global market is estimated at over $170 billion and is expected to grow at a rate of 2 – 3 percent annually. 

The shoe industry is also the world’s largest user of leather, manufacturing 14 billion pairs of leather shoes annually, with over 10 billion made in Asia.

The Problem

While the shoe industry is embracing artificial materials in response to consumer demand and to keep costs as low as possible, it can be difficult to know if your shoes are made from real leather or artificial materials. Shoe brands often use confusing words or phrases to describe the product used, so consumers can’t easily tell what their shoes are actually made of.

Fortunately, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulates the labeling of leather products. The term “leather” cannot be used unless the product is “in all substantial parts of leather. The use of non-genuine leather materials must be specified on the label or instructions, by using terms such as “imitation leather,” “simulated leather,” “vinyl” or “plastic.”

However, even if correctly labeled, certain faux leather products are in fact plastic, and are therefore harmful to the environment due to their composition as well as the process by which they are made.

The word “Leather” should NOT be used to promote synthetic alternative products

Our Goal

Our goal is for shoe manufacturers to abide by the laws governing the labelling of footwear sold in the U.S. and not use words that confuse or obfuscate potential buyers.

We also want consumers worldwide to be educated about the properties as well as the performance of fake leather.

Be Aware of Faux Shoe Leather Types

General examples of terms used to refer to fake leather include:

Artificial leather
Imitation Leather
PU leather
PVC leather
Simulated leather
Vegan leather
Vinyl leather

Be direct and up front

Make it known that you only want real leather. You should have no problem finding 100% real leather shoes in your favorite store.

Ask for proof

Check the label and make sure it provides a description of the content that you fully understand.

Still Not Clear?

If there is no label, or you still don’t understand whether the shoes you want to buy are made of leather, then keep looking!

Real Leather vs. Fake Leather in the Shoe Industry

Leather has many advantages over synthetic leather when used for shoes. Here are just a few:

• Elegant
• Durable
• Will last for years
• Breathable
• Biodegradable
• Comfortable


Poll Time!