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What is suede?

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What is the difference between suede and leather? How is suede made? What are the advantages of suede? This and much more is summarized in this post.

What is suede?

As some may know, suede is a soft, textured material. Most commonly, suede is used from hides of sheep and cow, but it can be made from any animal hide. The characteristics of suede are determined by which animals’ skin is used.

How is suede made?

At its essence, suede is made from corium, a sub-layer of leather. The corium can be surfaced through two different methods:
  1. By splitting full-grain leather in two, taking the lower part. The most common way to make suede. It’s referred to as split suede. This procedure creates a thin, soft, flexible suede.
  2. By reversing the full-grain leather. Instead of cutting it in two, the whole full-grain leather hide is reversed, surfacing the corium. This gives a tougher, thicker, more durable suede. While this suede looks aesthetically like a split suede, its thickness makes it less flexible and comfortable.

What are the advantages of suede?

Apart from its classic, timeless looks, the advantages of split suede are:
  • Flexible. Due to its relative thinness, suede is generally more flexible and stretchier than leather. Generally, this makes suede shoes more comfortable than their leather counterparts and allows for quicker break-in times. Because of its comfort, suede is popularly used for dress shoes and Espadrilles.
  • Soft. Due to the velvet structure of the corium, suede is a soft material – one reason why it’s often used as lining in leather shoes.
  • Breathability. Due to the corium’s partly porous structure and its thinness, suede is a breathing material, ideal for keeping your feet temperate during summer.
  • Durability. Suede is an organic material, literally designed by nature. With some luck, suede products can last a lifetime if maintained properly.

What are the disadvantages of suede?

  • The single drawback of the suede’s thinness: its fragility. Compared to full-grain and top-grain leather, suede is more easily damaged. However, it’s important to understand full-grain leather is the champion of durability. In other words: If you’re choosing between suede and leather dress shoes, leather is a more durable option, but suede is more soft and flexible.
  • Difficult to remove marks. Because of its structure, suede is more susceptible to stains and dirt in comparison to leather. Thus, it’s vital to know how to care for suede products.

    Curious to know how you can bring life back to your suede shoes? Read our step-by-step guide How to Restore Suede Shoes

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How to clean suede

We got you covered on how to take care of suede shoes in this post.

Read Article

Suede vs leather

Suede and leather are two classic and timeless materials with different characteristics. For instance, suede is not water-resistant and should be avoided to be worn during those heavily rainy days – even if they are protected and impregnated. Full-grain leather isn’t fully water-resistant but since leather is the animal’s skin, it has basically been designed by nature to be protective and withstand water better.

During warm days, suede is often preferred over leather because of its breathability, keeping your feet temperate.

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