What is Suede?

Suede is a type of leather that has a napped finish, making it soft to the touch. It is often used for clothing, furniture, and shoes.

Suede is made from the innermost layer of the hide, which is why it is softer and more pliable than other types of leather.

Despite being more delicate than other types of leather, suede is often used for clothing, furniture, and other items where a soft, supple material is desired.

History of Suede

The term suede comes from the French word ‘gants de Suede,’ which translates to “gloves from Sweden“. 

Leather gloves imported from Sweden were popular among the French nobility in the late 18th century during the Romantic Period.

The Swedish artisans invented a way to use the soft, underside of hides to create very soft gloves for women. This leather was softer than the traditional leather made from the outer layers of the hide.

The term suede was initially used to refer to soft gloves imported from Sweden. However, the term eventually came to refer to the soft leather material with a napped finish.

Suede leather became very popular in the twentieth century. It was associated with high-end luxury because of its soft, delicate feel. Today, suede is still a popular material for footwear and clothing.

How is Suede Made

Animal hides have three layers. The top layer or outermost layer is called the grain side. The middle layer of the hide connects the grain and the bottom layer. The bottom layer or the innermost layer of the skin is called corium.

Cross section of cow hide showing corium

Suede leather is made from corium. It is usually made from lambskin and cowhide. However, it can also be made from other animal hides, including young goats, pigs, and deer.

The process of creating leather starts with slaughtering and skinning the animal. The hide is then sprinkled with salt. Salt helps to preserve the hide and prevents it from decaying.

After salting, the hide is soaked and limed. This process removes the flesh and hair from the hide.

After the hide is processed, suede can be made using one of two methods.

Splitting Method

In this method, the animal hide is split into two layers after processing. The top layer is used for making full-grain leather. The bottom layer or corium is used for making suede.

The corium is tanned and sanded to make it fuzzy. Sanding gives suede a soft and flowy texture and a napped surface.

Turning the Hide Upside Down

Some manufacturers turn the animal hide upside down to create suede leather. This exposes the corium or weaker side of the hide.

The suede produced from this technique is sturdier and lacks fragile consistency. Therefore, this approach is not commonly used.

Suede is often dyed in various colors but can also be left in its natural color. Once the hide is prepared, it is then cut into pieces that will be used to make suede products.

Characteristics of Suede

  • Suede leather has a smooth, velvety nap. It is softer than other types of leather.
  • The fibers of corium are loose, making suede flexible. This makes it a popular choice for clothing, shoes, and other items that require a soft, pliable material.
  • However, suede is thinner and more delicate than other types of leather. This makes it prone to scuffing.
  • The napped texture of suede traps dirt and dust and makes it prone to staining.
  • The suede is not water-resistant. Therefore, suede should be cleaned carefully and avoided in dirty and wet environments.
  • The natural color of suede is light brown or grey. However, it can be dyed in a wide variety of colors.
  • Suede is more expensive than other types of leather because of the delicate production process. Corium is more susceptible to damage, so it must be treated with care.

Types of Suede

Suede leather can be made from the hides of different animals. However, it is most commonly made from lamb and cow.

Suede can also be made from the hide of pigs, deer, and young goats. Every type of animal produces a slightly different kind of suede.

Lambskin Suede

Lambskin suede is the thinnest and most supple suede. It is incredibly soft and has a fuzzy texture. The leather from the older animals is called sheepskin suede leather. 

Lambskin suede is often used for clothing and accessories because of its lightweight and luxurious feel. Lambskin suede is more expensive than cowhide and pigskin suede.

Deerskin Suede

The softest and strongest suede comes from deerskin. Deerskin suede is flexible and has a soft texture. It is also breathable.

The tanning process for deerskin suede is difficult and complex, making it the most expensive suede leather.

Pigskin Suede

Pigskin suede is thinner and less durable than cowhide suede. It is buffed using a sanding technique to get a velvety finish. It has a short and rough nap.

Pigskin suede does not get stiff after getting wet. It is often used for work gloves, shoes, and wallets. 

Pigskin suede is less expensive than deerskin, lambskin, and goatskin suede.

Cowhide Suede

Cowhide suede is the most common type of suede. It is made from the innermost layer of a cow’s hide. Cowhide suede is the thickest and most durable suede.

Cowhide suede has a long nap and a soft texture. It is often used for furniture, clothing, shoes, and other items that require a robust and flexible material. Cowhide suede is less expensive than lambskin and deerskin suede.

Suede leather from calves is softer than cowhide suede and is often used in high-end garments. 

Goatskin Suede

Goatskin suede is made from the skin of young goats. It has a soft, velvety surface that is similar to lambskin suede.

However, it is slightly heavier and more durable than lambskin suede. Unlike lambskin, goatskin suede is better insulated and can withstand more wear and tear.

Goatskin suede is often used for gloves, shoes, book covers, and other garments that require a supple material. It is more expensive than pigskin and cowhide suede.


Suede leather is used to make various products, including clothing, footwear, furniture, and accessories.


Suede leather is a popular shoe material because it is soft and thin. It is used to make different types of footwear, including dress shoes, sneakers, and boots. It is also used to make slippers and other types of footwear.

However, suede footwears are not waterproof. Therefore, before putting them, on it is essential to spray them with a suede protectant spray.


Suede is sometimes used to make wallets, phone cases, and other items that require a soft material. It is also used to make various accessories, including belts, bags, purses, keychains, and wallets. 

Suede accessories are often stamped with a design or logo. These accessories are more expensive than those made from other materials.


Suede leather is a good choice for sofas and chairs because it is soft and pliable leather. It is also used to upholster furniture. Suede can be dyed in a variety of colors to match the decor of any room.

The furniture made from suede leather is lined with other materials to protect it from wear and tear. Suede furniture is made from thicker hides like cowhide suede. However, they can also be made from faux suede.

Suede furniture needs proper care and maintenance. You should brush it regularly with a suede brush and spray it with protectant spray. The suede protectant spray will protect and condition suede leather.


Suede is often used to make clothing, including jackets, skirts, pants, and dresses. It is often used for making clothing because it is lightweight and breathable.

Softer suede leathers like lambskin suede, sheepskin suede, calfskin suede, deerskin suede, and goatskin suede are used for making garments.

Suede Alternatives

A few options are available if you are looking for a vegan and cheap alternative to suede.

These materials are not made from animal hides. However, they look and feel the same as suede.

Ultrasuede or Faux Suede

Ultrasuede is the trade name for synthetic fabric made from polyesters like nylon and kevlar. Faux suede fabric and microsuede are other names for this fabric. 

It was originally developed in the 1970s by Dr. Miyoshi Okamoto. He was a scientist at the Japanese company Toray Industries.

Ultrasuede or faux suede is known for its soft, velvety feel and durability. It is also stain resistant and easy to clean. Ultrasuede is often used in upholstery, clothing, and automotive applications. It can also be found in handbags, shoes, and other accessories.

Ultrasuede is an affordable alternative to suede and provides a similar look.


Velour is made from cotton and polyester. It is a soft, durable, and breathable fabric with a velvety nap similar to suede material.

Velour is often used in garments such as tracksuits, hoodies, hats, and upholstery for furniture and cars.

The fabric’s unique combination of comfort and durability has made it a favorite among consumers. Velour is also known for resisting wrinkles, making it an excellent choice for travel clothing.


How can you tell real suede?

Real suede typically has an irregular shape and uneven thickness as it is made from the animal’s skin. 

The best way to tell the difference between real and fake suede is to simply touch and feel the material. Genuine suede will be soft and smooth, while faux suede will often be stiffer and have a rough texture. Genuine suede will have a smell of natural leather, while fake suede will smell like plastic.

Is suede waterproof?

No, suede is not waterproof. Suede leather is a breathable material that absorbs water. However, suede protectant spray can make suede leather water resistant. The suede should be treated with a waterproofing spray every three months. This will also prevent leather fibers from drying.

Is suede more expensive than leather?

Yes, suede leather is more expensive than leather. It is also more difficult to produce than leather. The suede is made from the innermost layer of the hide, which is the softest and most delicate part.

Is suede hard to clean?

No, suede is not difficult to clean. You should not use water for cleaning suede. Always use products that are specifically designed for cleaning suede. These products will not damage the material. Also, suede leather scratches easily, so never scrub it vigorously.

How do you store suede?

Always store suede leather in a cool and dry place away from moisture. Suede should not be stored near heat resources like radiators. Store suede products in a breathable bag to prevent them from becoming wrinkled.

How do you protect suede?

The best way to protect suede is to treat it with a waterproofing spray. This will help to repel water and stains. You should also avoid wearing suede footwear and garments in wet weather.


That’s it! You now know everything about suede.

Suede is a popular type of leather that has unique characteristics. It’s soft, smooth, and delicate and needs to be handled with care. There are different types of suede depending on the animal skin they are made of.

Suede is more expensive than leather, but it’s still a popular choice for many people.

Suede may be the right fabric for you if you want to add a touch of sophistication to your wardrobe or home decor.

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