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Suede leather: What is it, difference between faux and genuine and more

You may have come across Suede leather while shopping for leather products such as furniture or clothing. But what exactly is suede, and how do we tell the difference between genuine and faux? Continue reading to learn everything there is to know about Suede leather.

What is Suede?

Suede leather
Image: Courtesy Pexels

Suede is a type of leather that is made from the underside of an animal’s skin and has a soft surface. Suede is typically made from lambskin, but it can also be made from goat skin, pig skin, calf skin, and deer skin. Suede is softer, thinner, and not as strong as full-grain, traditional leather.

What are the origins of Suede?

The term “suede” is derived from the French term “gants de Suede,” which translates to “gloves of Sweden.” Imports of Swedish leather were very popular among the French nobility during the late 18th century Romantic period in France. Instead of using rough leather from the hide’s outer layers, Swedish artisans invented a method to use the soft, inner skin of hides to create incredibly soft gloves for women.

For many decades, suede was only used for gloves, but European artisans recognised the possibilities for other uses, and suede began to be used in items such as jackets, shoes, bags, and more.

How is Suede made?

suede leather
Image: Courtesy Pexels

Suede is a type of leather that is made from animal skin. However, there are two ways to make it. The first strategy entails simply turning the animal hide upside down, exposing the hide’s weaker side. This technique, on the other hand, yields a more durable material that lacks the delicate consistency of suede leather. As a result, this method is rarely used.

Splitting the leather, scraping the upper grain, and exposing only the napped underside of the animal hide is the second method. Because the fuzzy material is visible on both sides of the cloth, this method is preferred over the previous one. This also results in a softer and more versatile material for making leather clothing and accessories.

Difference between real and faux Suede

Aside from the fact that real suede is made from animal skins and faux suede is made from synthetic materials, there are several significant differences between the two. Genuine suede is more durable, though the quality varies depending on how it is made. Imitation fabric, on the other hand, is more resistant to water and staining and is often easier to care for.

Real suede is not typically water resistant, and even a small drop can leave a permanent stain. The leather can be treated with various chemicals to help improve its water resistance, but the results are frequently mixed. As a result, most outerwear made from this material is fashionable but should only be worn indoors or on sunny days. In contrast, faux suede is usually water repellent if not completely waterproof on its own. It is primarily made of refined plastic, making it extremely weather resistant.

Another point of distinction is age. Regular suede, like most leathers, cracks and discolours with age. Different parts of the material react differently to sunlight and atmospheric elements over time, usually corresponding to the part of the animal from which they came. Parts of the body that have been used and stretched more than others produce tougher, more crack-prone leather than parts that have been mostly covered in fat or protected muscle. In most cases, imitation suede is much more consistent and ages uniformly.

What are the different types of Suede?

Some of the most common types of suede are as follows:

Pigskin suede

This is the least common of the three animal skin types. This is due to the fact that it has a harder and firmer texture, as well as a shorter nap. Nonetheless, pigskin is still used because it is the most durable and long-lasting of all materials.

Sheepskin suede

Sheepskin is the most commonly used animal hide for Suede leather. It’s famous for its pliable, brush-textured surface. It is also the lightest and most delicate suede among the others. Despite the fact that it is not waterproof, it is an excellent winter clothing material for keeping you warm.

Cowhide suede

As previously stated, the consistency of suede leather is affected by the age of the animal. Calves, as a result, develop softer and lighter hide than older cows. Cowhide is as soft as sheepskin, but it is not as widely available. Regardless, it is extremely durable and long-lasting.

What is it used?

suede leather
Image: Courtesy Pexels

Accessories: Suede, named for gloves, is popular for a variety of accessories, including gloves, handbags, and belts. Its distinct appearance makes it a popular fabric among fashion designers for accent items like bags and belts.

Footwear: The smooth nap of suede renders an appealing appearance and structure to loafers, slides, and boots. Suede boots are particularly popular for their comfort and character. It is also lighter than standard leather while still being durable, making it ideal for footwear.

Outerwear/Clothing: Western fringe jackets are famous for being made of suede, and a suede jacket is a fashion staple due to the beautiful suede texture and durability.

Advantages of Suede

Malleable: Suede is a pliable leather that can be easily moulded to make clothing and accessories such as jackets and purses. Thinner leathers have a nice drape and can be used to make dresses.

Durable: When compared to cloth fabrics, suede is a very durable and tough fabric. Suede has a stunning, delicate drape due to its thinness.

Appearance: Suede is a soft fabric with a smooth nap that has an appealing fabric texture.

Long-lasting: Since Suede is a type of leather, so it can last a very long time.

Disadvantages of Suede

Thin: One of suede’s main advantages is also its main disadvantage: it is thin, making it less durable than standard leather.

Easily damaged: Suede’s nap can attract dust and dirt, detracting from its smooth appearance and making it look dirty.

Difference Between Suede and Nubuck

Nubuck, like standard leather, is a soft leather made from the top grain of the animal hide. Nubuck is sanded to create a smooth finish. When it comes to their cost, suede is less expensive than nubuck leather. Nubuck is typically made from cowhide, whereas suede can be made from cow skin but is less common because cowhide produces a tough texture. Nubuck is thicker and more durable than suede. Although nubuck and suede are not naturally waterproof, they can be treated at home or by the manufacturer to become more water resistant.

Difference Between Suede and Microsuede

Microsuede is a type of faux leather made from a suede-like polyester fabric. Because it is soft, water-resistant, light weight, stain-proof, and easy to care for, microsuede is one of the most popular types of faux suede. It is popular for home decor, such as upholstery fabric for furniture, especially in homes with children and pets, because the faux suede fabric is more durable and easier to clean than suede.

Care considerations

suede leather
Image: Courtesy Pexels

Suede should be cleaned professionally by a leather-cleaning expert for proper care, but there are some tips and tricks you can use at home to keep suede looking good.

1. Never allow suede to come into contact with water. Water will ruin the material while it is absorbent, and the water damage is irreversible.

2. To keep the nap fresh, use a suede brush with brass or nylon bristles or a toothbrush. To remove stains from suede fabric, use a suede eraser. Special suede treatments are also available to make the fabric more water-resistant. Before using these treatments, make sure your suede product is clean.

3. To treat a wet stain, use talc powder. White vinegar can be used to remove a dried stain.

All Images: Courtesy Shutterstock

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Question: How to clean suede leather shoes?

Answer: Most stains on suede can be removed with a suede brush and eraser. More serious stains, on the other hand, require a good suede shampoo or a mixture of soap and water to really penetrate the soiled areas. Brush the suede lightly with the grain, using a suede brush, an old toothbrush, or a terry-cloth towel, to remove any debris.

Question: What is suede leather?

Answer: Suede is a type of leather that is made from the underside of an animal’s skin and has a soft surface. Suede is typically made from lambskin, but it can also be made from goat skin, pig skin, calve skin, and deer skin. Suede is softer, thinner, and not as strong as full-grain, traditional leather.

Question: What is suede leather made of?

Answer: Suede is a type of leather made from the skin of animals such as lambs, goats, pigs, calves, and deer.

Question: How to clean suede leather sofa?

Answer: To remove dirt and dust, use a slightly damp cloth to clean the surface without getting the upholstery wet. Water is never used by professional sofa cleaners to clean water-sensitive materials such as suede. They use a dry cleaning method instead because shampooing and steam cleaning can damage the luxurious upholstery.

Suede leather: What is it, difference between faux and genuine and more

Anushka Narula

Anushka likes to write about fashion, beauty, and other nice things. When not bound to her keyboard, she likes to make her Pinterest boards come to life.


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