Shoe Material Symbols – What Do They Mean?

Have you ever wondered what those shoe signs symbols stickers that come with the shoes mean? Do you want to know exactly what your children’s shoes are made of? Several parents have asked me how can they tell what type of materials were used to make their kids’ shoes. The label that comes with every single shoe is a breakdown of the construction of the shoe, and it basically tells you all the information that you need to know about the materials that were used to construct the shoe.

There are a lot of parents who prefer to buy shoes made of man-made materials (vegan shoes). The label that comes inside the shoe comes in handy to distinguish the materials apart, so you can make sure you are buying a shoe that is not made of animal skin.

Why would shoe companies put a sticker inside the shoe with images but no explanation of what those images actually stand for? Through this post, I will explain what each shoe material symbol means and stands for.

Let’s start by breaking down the shoe symbols so you can understand them better. The shoe label is divided into two columns and three rows, and each row has three categories. The column on the left shows the three parts of the shoe and the right column shows which materials are used for the part. Below I have taken a picture of this label and broken down the categories so you can understand what each symbol actually means.

Shoe Material Symbols – Figuring Out What the Shoe Material Symbols Stand For


By the way, you can find this shoe material sticker inside your kids’ shoes:

Let’s start by describing the shoe symbols in the left column:

Upper: This is the outside part of the shoe, the one that is the most visible. The upper part of the shoe consists of all the parts of the shoe above the sole. Uppers tend to be made with different materials, both natural and synthetic.


Lining and Sock: This involves the inside of the shoe, which is the part that provides your child with comfort and support. This part consists of various materials such as leathers, fabrics, and man-made synthetics.


Outer Sole: This is the sole of the shoe, which has the main function of protecting your kids’ feet from the ground. This part is directly exposed to wear and tear, so it must be made of good quality. They tend to be made from different materials, and the outer sole is constructed with different thicknesses and degrees of flexibility.


Now, let’s describe the shoe symbols in the right column:

Leather: This symbol means that the skin of an animal has been used to make the shoe. This symbol refers specifically to leather, but keep in mind that there are many kinds of leather, such as nubuck and suede. Did you know that for a shoe to be classified as genuine leather, a minimum of 80 percent of the shoe must be made from leather?


Textile: This symbol means that a fabric has been used. If you are looking for an animal-friendly shoe, this is the sign you want to look for! The symbol represents all man-made or natural materials.


Other materials: This symbol refers to the outer sole of the shoe which is a man-made material. Some of the materials used for the sole of the shoes are PVC (plastic), wood and rubber. This symbol also means animal-free materials.


Coated leather: This symbol refers to a surface layer of a chemical such as polyurethane that is applied to the grain side of the leather. This material makes the shoe much cheaper than a genuine leather shoe and has a consistent surface finish. Some of the main disadvantages of coated leather are that it doesn’t look or feels like genuine leather, it doesn’t breathe as well, and it is less flexible.


Are You Looking for Vegan Shoes for Your Children?

Nowadays, most footwear is made out of animal skin, and I understand why many people will refuse to use products containing any part of the animal body. Finding a pair of shoes marked vegan is not an easy task.

How can you tell if your kids’ shoes have been made from animal-free-materials? If the label says either ‘synthetic’, ‘man-made materials’, ‘textile’ or ‘other materials’ then you should feel confident that no animal skin has been used!

Just make sure the material icon alongside the shoe icon on the label doesn’t have the leather symbol.

I do have to warn you that buying shoes made out of synthetic materials can bring many problems to your children’s feet. These shoes tend to be poorly made, which leads to the shoe falling apart faster. Shoes made out of synthetic materials also tend to make your kids’ feet sweat a lot more, which can create a myriad of problems for their feet.

If you are looking for vegan shoes for your child, I have put together a selection of the best kids’ shoes made from man-made materials. Disclosure: Some links in this post may be affiliate links and we may receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) when you click our links and make purchases.

The Best Vegan Shoes for Kids

How to Retrieve Your Child’s Exact Foot Length and Shape

If you are unsure of your child’s shoe size I suggest that you take a look at a different article I wrote where I help parents determine their child’s exact foot size and whether the child has narrow, medium, wide, or extra wide feet. I also will be able to tell you whether your child has a high instep or not.

I know which kids’ shoes are better than others since I have been fitting children’s shoes for the last 10 years now, working at a specialized shoe store that focuses in children with foot and leg pain, but we provide regular shoe fittings as well.

Get a Personalized Suggestion

I always tell parents one thing: It doesn’t matter how narrow or wide your kids’ feet are, there is always at least one particular shoe style out there that will fit the shape of your kids’ feet perfectly, and I will help you find them.

I recently created a virtual tool that allows parents to filter shoe options by their child’s unique footprint. The tool involves a simple process in which parents select the child’s age, shoe size, type of shoe that they are looking for, whether they want velcro closure or shoelaces, and other important features such as whether the shoe is capable of accommodating an orthotic.

Do you prefer getting vegan shoes for your child or shoes made out of leather? Are there any vegan shoes you would recommend? Share your experience and thoughts in the comment section below so other people can benefit from them.