Animal Skin Sold as ‘Luxury Leather’ Is a Deadly Rip-Off


Every cow is someone. Every calf is someone’s baby. Every ostrich, alligator, crocodile, snake, lizard, and kangaroo experiences joy and pain. Leather made from someone’s skin is grotesque, not fashionable. Understanding this and being kind is simple. Don’t fall for leather industry lies. Remember that “luxury leather” items peddled by high-end brands aren’t luxurious—they’re exploitative.

calf looking at camera with yellow tags

Luxury brands rely heavily on calfskin. Tearing the skin off a calf or any other animal—sometimes while they’re still conscious—to make an expensive shoe, bag, or jacket is a literal rip-off. What’s worse, calfskin is often a coproduct of the vile veal industry. No caring consumer would support such cruelty by buying “luxury leather.”

Avoid these five brands and their “luxury leather” products:

  1. Christian Louboutin

The unmistakable red leather–soled shoes from Christian Louboutin are “killer” in a way that no informed shopper would support. Gentle calves suffer and workers slaughter them to make what should now be notorious heels. Instead, choose compassion with vegan luxury shoes and animal-friendly stilettos, a wide variety of which are easy to find.

  1. Gucci

The GG Marmont leather bags—largely made of calfskin—are well-known Gucci products, but the brand never reveals the suffering sewn into them. For calfskin bags, workers kill gentle calves and then tear their skin off—after they’ve already been torn away from their mothers.

Other Gucci items are made of exotic skins. A PETA Asia investigation into an Indonesian slaughterhouse that has allegedly supplied the brand revealed that lizards have their legs tied together and are thrown around, beheaded—while still conscious—and dismembered for the brand’s wallets, belts, and purses.

Vegan luxury handbags are the only genuinely fashionable type. A Billie Eilish and Gucci collab—for which PETA awarded the brand Best Luxury Product of 2023—proved that Gucci can easily make this shift.

  1. Hermès

Hermès describes its Birkin bag’s leather as “vegetable-tanned natural cowhide,” but slaughtering cows is anything but natural and no amount of vegetable tanning can change that. PETA entities have released damning investigations to push Hermès to end its unconscionable use of ostriches, alligators, and crocodiles for their skin.

  1. Louis Vuitton

Louis Vuitton’s Speedy handbags can’t hide who had to die for them. They’re made of cowhide—which is obviously someone’s skin—and producing them causes countless deaths.

Investigations by PETA entities have shown how Louis Vuitton is responsible for the torture and killing of crocodiles, ostriches, and pythons and other snakes for their skin—disgustingly feeding the greed of Bernard Arnault, the CEO of LVMH (Louis Vuitton’s parent corporation).

Body-painted "reptiles" outside Louis Vuitton San Francisco store

  1. Prada

The Galleria Bag from Prada uses calfskin, although ostrich skin also plays a repulsive role in this product. Due to PETA’s efforts, Prada banned fur in 2019, but the push for the company to stop using animals’ skin continues. Prada must do better, especially when vegan ostrich leather purses are easy to shop for and animal-free.

double image showing an ostrich's bloody body hanging, then a yellow arrow pointing toward a Prada purse made out of ostrich skin

More Ways PETA Is Pushing Brands to Ban Animal Skin

PETA called out Michael Kors for using animals’ skin as well as angora and cashmere—hair torn from tied-up, crying rabbits and goats, respectively. And we’ve campaigned to persuade Versace and Jimmy Choo to ban exotic skins.

In 2022, PETA relaunched an ad starring Ricky Gervais and P!nk titled “Stolen for Fashion” ahead of New York Fashion Week and Fendi’s runway show.

Despite having previously sold kangaroo skin, Puma and Nike both banned exotic skins after a push from PETA. We’re urging Adidas to follow in their footsteps. Vegan shoes and sneakers from an array of brands are easy to find online.

PETA will keep campaigning to end the use of leather, just as we did at a Coach fashion show in 2023.

By leaving their use of leather and exotic skins in the past, luxury brands can spare the lives of countless cows, snakes, crocodiles, and other animals while making fashion-forward goods.

Why Leather Must Be Animal-Free

Animals are individuals with distinct personalities. Cows, for example, are intelligent animals with good memories. They develop friendships over time and sometimes hold grudges against other cows who treat them badly. They mourn the deaths of those they love, sometimes shedding tears over their loss. The bond between mother and calf is particularly strong, and mother cows cry out desperately for their calves when they’re torn away from them.

Worldwide, more than a billion cows, sheep, and other animals are killed annually for their skin.

Although many brands tout purported animal welfare standards when marketing their leather products, PETA Asia investigations have proved many of those claims to be false.

At slaughterhouses, workers in the leather industry may skin and dismember animals who are still conscious without any pain relief.

Was She Killed to Make Your Carry On Ad

Turning cows’ and other animals’ skin into nubuck, calfskin, sheepskin, lambskin, and other types of leather destroys the planet.

It’s an extremely unnatural process—halting decomposition through chemical baths and dehydration. Formaldehyde, coal-tar derivatives, and various oils, dyes, and finishes—some of which are cyanide-based—are used to turn animal skin into leather.

Leather made from cows’ skin isn’t biodegradable and contributes far more to water pollution and depletion and greenhouse gas emissions than any synthetic or plant-based vegan leather.

PETA ad that says "drop leather and save all our skins"

Brands can easily choose kindness and follow the example of companies like Apple—our 2023 Company of the Year—by ditching animals’ skin altogether.

mother and baby cow kissing

Take Action

Never buy or wear animal skin. Only wear vegan clothing and accessories.



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