Why test shoes for harmful substances?

Footwear is usually worn for long periods of time and often comes into direct contact with the skin. During wear, shoes creates a warm and moist environment inside the footwear. Despite their long life, even shoes made from textile materials are rarely washed. In addition, they consist of many different components from a complicated supply chain.

Therefore, it is important that shoes do not contain harmful substances. Each component from the various stages of production represents a potential risk for harmful substances. They must also comply with legal requirements.

Which products do we test and certify?

In our independent, accredited laboratories, we test finished footwear (end products) and individual components of shoes (uppers, midsoles, outsoles, insoles, heel caps, etc.) according to OEKO-TEX® LEATHER STANDARD.

Certification according to LEATHER STANDARD usually takes place if the shoes or individual components as a whole consist mainly of leather materials. If the largest part of the final product is made of textile materials, it is certified to OEKO-TEX® STANDARD 100.

What are the benefits of LEATHER STANDARD certification for footwear?

For brands, retailers, manufacturers

  • Reduced market risk
    through compliance with legal requirements
  • Credible consumer communication
    through an independent, globally recognized product label
  • Proof of human-ecological safety
    through laboratory tests
  • Transparency and reduced certification costs
    through the use of pre-certified source materials and components

For consumers

  • Comprehensive and reliable safety
    through globally standardized and annually updated test criteria, testing methods based on real-life use, control tests after certificate issue
  • Credibility and traceability
    through validity checks of certified products

What makes LEATHER STANDARD certification of footwear unique?

The OEKO-TEX® LEATHER STANDARD certificate for footwear is only issued if all components comply with the required criteria of the LEATHER STANDARD Restricted Substances List (RSL) - without exception.

A further requirement for certification is an on-site audit. In this way, we ensure that the company's quality assurance practices are suitable for complying with the required OEKO-TEX® criteria during ongoing production.

LEATHER STANDARD certification is based on a modular concept.

Certified source materials (e.g. uppers, linings) and individual components (e.g. insoles, midsoles, outsoles) are recognized at subsequent production stages without the need for additional lab testing.

This principle offers convincing advantages, especially to brands, retailers and manufacturers of finished goods:

  • Costs and responsibility for the human ecological safety of the certified end product are distributed across the supply chain

  • By using LEATHER STANDARD certified components, you ensure that your products meet the legal requirements in all major consumer markets even before the production begins

  • The OEKO-TEX® Buying Guide is free online directory for sourcing certified materials and components

  • LEATHER STANDARD is an optimized tool for operational quality assurance without requiring in-company know-how and resources

  • Product stewardship is always up to date with the annually updated OEKO-TEX® RSL - harmonized with international laws and industry initiatives


Technical Guides & Resources

Ben Mead
Managing Director
Hohenstein Americas