Suede Leather: What is it & for Which Products is it Commonly Used For
You’ve probably heard Elvis singing about “blue suede shoes” or perhaps remember the Seinfeld episode when Jerry ruined a suede jacket. Suede leather is characterized by a soft and smooth surface, and it is popular for fashion items, like shoes, luxury bags and jackets as it has a unique feel and look among leather types. Real suede leather is an established product with a great reputation. It does take a little care but it’s going to give you quality, a comfortable feel and look that you’ll appreciate for a long time.
What is Suede Leather?
Suede is a high-quality form of leather made from the underside of the animal skin. It is softer, thinner, and not as strong as full-grain, traditional leather. Since it is thinner and softer, suede is more vulnerable to damage. But it’s that softness and pliability that is so valued and makes it great for a wide array of products, like the CHER Luxury Suede Bag or the BARB Suede Fringe Skirt by MILA.
How is Suede Leather made?
Suede is a type of split leather – in fact, it’s the innermost layer of the hide. The underside of the animal skin is separated from the top, which creates the thin, flowy, softer leather. It is usually made from lambskin, but comes also from other types of animals, including goats, pigs, calves, and deer. Since suede is very soft, the skins of younger animals are usually used.
The Quality Level of Suede
Unlike normal leather, which is mostly quite thick, suede is usually thin, which contributes to its allure for delicate textile applications. Suede is a very durable and tough fabric when compared to cloth fabrics. The thin nature of suede gives it a nice, delicate drape. Suede is very soft, and its smooth nap provides an appealing fabric texture. Suede is a pliable leather, and it can be molded easily to make clothing and accessories, like coats and bags. Thinner versions of the leather have a nice drape and can be used to make dresses. Since suede is a form of leather, the material can last for an extremely long time. One of suede’s biggest advantages is also its weakness—being thin makes it not as durable as standard leather. Suede’s nap can collect dust and dirt, which can harm the smooth appearance and make it look dirty easily. Suede is notoriously hard to clean; machine washing this fabric can ruin it, but since suede becomes dirty so easily, owners of suede garments, shoes, or accessories must professionally clean their suede items relatively frequently to keep them in good condition.
Types of Suede Leather
Suede differs in quality and appearance slightly based on the type of animal hide used in production. These are some of the most common types of suede:
- 1. Sheepskin suede. This is the softest, most delicate type of suede, made from sheep and lambs. It has a smooth nap and is lighter weight than other suedes.
- 2. Cowhide suede. Cowhide is the roughest form of suede, and the older the animal, the thicker and rougher the nap. Cowhide suede can also be called split cowhide, rawhide, bush coat, rough out, and calfskin.
- 3. Pigskin suede. Pigskin is a thick, durable, and heavy type of suede with a short, rough nap.
How to care for Suede Leather
Suede should be professionally cleaned by a leather-cleaning expert for proper care, but there are some tips and tricks you can use at home to maintain the appearance of suede.
- 1. Do not let suede come into contact with water. While it is absorbent, the water will ruin the material, and the water damage is irreparable.
- 2. Use a suede brush made with brass or nylon bristles, or a toothbrush, to keep the nap fresh. A suede eraser is a good tool to remove stains from suede fabric. You can also buy special suede treatments to make the fabric more water-resistant. Make sure to clean your suede item before applying these treatments.
- 3. Use talc powder to treat a wet stain. A dried stain can be treated with some white vinegar.