What are the Different Types of Suede?

Introduction

Suede is a material that we have all seen and heard about more times than we can possibly count. Elvis definitely sang about “blue suede shoes” at some point, and you may recall the Seinfeld episode where Jerry damaged a suede jacket. Suede, a premium variety of leather produced from the underside of the animal hide, is a popular choice. It has a silky, smooth surface and is favored for clothing such as shoes, accessories, and coats. Everyone on the earth now tries to avoid stepping on blue suede shoes because they are one of the most expensive clothing materials nowadays. Despite the fact that we agree with its awesomely rich appearance and feel and the variety of colors they come in, we only know a little about it.

Understanding the many kinds of suede leather that are available is crucial. Each class has distinctive qualities that make it appropriate for various applications. Several possibilities range from traditional pigskin suede to more exotic options like deer and kangaroo suede. The textures, durability, and look of each variety vary. Let’s delve in and learn the mysteries of this enduring and alluring literature.

What is a Suede?

A close up of a yellow suede surface

Suede is a particular type of leather made from animal skin used to create regular leather. It has a napped texture, making it velvety to the touch. Shoes, furniture, and apparel are frequently made with it. Suede is softer and more malleable than other varieties of leather since it is created from the innermost layer of the hide. Suede is frequently used for clothes, furniture, and other objects where a soft, supple texture is sought despite being more sensitive than other forms of leather. The primary distinction between suede and different varieties of leather is that suede fabric is made from the underside of an animal’s skin. In contrast, most leather types are made from the top side.

Animal skin is softer on the inside than the outside, but it is also less weather- and stain-resistant. Since suede is more delicate to the touch and more comfortable when worn against the skin, it is typically regarded as a luxury material even though it lacks the durability of regular leather. Suede is far more porous than standard leather; thus, it provides a different level of waterproofing protection. Therefore, it is advisable to wear suede clothing inside or in settings where it is rare that you will encounter unfavorable environmental circumstances.

While most leather products are made from cow skin, lamb skin is typically used to create suede. But other kinds of animal skin, such as calf, goat, and deer, can also be used to make suede. Textile makers have made a variety of synthetic suede substitutes with variable degrees of success to lessen the impact on animals used to make leather and combat some of the drawbacks of suede. Although suede’s desirable qualities cannot be duplicated, synthetic substitutes are more cost-effective or durable than the real thing.

Using the fat tanning process, natural animal hides are turned into suede. The wool is first cut from the base, after which it is lubricated with oil and given special treatment. Only the natural proteins are left in the substance when the process is finished because the oil has been absorbed. The fabric is then colored, perforated, embroidered, quilted, and embellished with designs or ornaments. This is how suede is shown in goods and leatherwork shops. Suede is far more absorbent than regular leather; thus, it provides a different level of waterproofing protection. Therefore, it is advisable to wear suede clothing inside or in settings where it is rare that you will encounter unfavorable environmental circumstances.

Brief History of Suede

Since the Paleolithic era, Animal hides have often been utilized to create clothes and household items. The Industrial Revolution was the only time that leather underwent a significant transformation, prompted by the introduction of various new types of tanning chemicals that have since been proven crucial to leather production. Suede has a long history that began in France during the Romantic era. During this period, Swedish leather imports acquired appeal among the French nobles, and the term “suede” was taken from the French term “gants de Suede,” meaning “gloves of Sweden.” Swedish leather workers found a way to use the coarse outer hide of animals instead of using it.  

Over time, suede started to be utilized to create many of the items we are acquainted with today, including coats, shorts, and pants. Using animal hides for clothes and accessories extends back thousands of years, even though the suede trend may be recent in human history. Through the years, leather and hides have been used continuously to make fabrics. The variety of leather goods in modern leather is the primary distinction between ancient and contemporary leather. Suede has come a long way, from its humble beginnings in Swedish gloves to its widespread use in the fashion industry.

Early men had to figure out how to tan leather to soften and wear leather. Wearing a soft suede underskin on the outside and grain leather on the inside was one option. Although it occasionally succeeded, early men most typically required a different method of tanning their skins. The second method involved separating the suede underneath from the grain leather. It was known as split leather. The leather was softer and supple, revealing the napped, fluffy beneath.

In particular, suede reached its peak of popularity in the 20th century. The fashion industry has played up its delicate yet opulent quality, look, and feel, contributing to its status as a symbol. For this reason, many people are constantly looking for the best suede leather jackets available. Additionally, suede has a feature that many find attractive in its adaptability. In the 20th century, suede leather rose to prominence. Because of its smooth, delicate texture, it was equated with high-end luxury. Suede is still a preferred fabric for apparel and shoes today.

Types of Suedes

Gray cardigan, blue jeans, and pair of brown chunky heeled shoes

Numerous animal hides can be used to create suede leather. But the majority of it is made from lamb and cow. Pig, deer, and kid goat hides can also be used to make suede. The suede produced by various animal species varies just a little.

1. Lambskin Suede

The thinnest and most soft suede is lambskin. It has a fuzzy texture and is exceedingly smooth. Sheepskin suede leather is the name given to the leather from older animals. Due to its lightweight and sumptuous texture, lambskin suede is frequently used for apparel and accessories. Cowhide and pigskin suede are less expensive than lambskin suede. This silky-soft, featherweight feel is incredibly abundant. The fabric is excellent for garments and shoes because it is thinner than leather.

2. Deerskin Suede

The softest and strongest suede comes from deerskin. Deerskin suede is flexible and has a silky texture. It is also breathable. Deerskin is the most expensive suede due to a complicated tanning process; deer suede is also the softest and strongest for footwear/apparel. The weave of the basic fiber keeps wearers cool in summer and warm in winter. This is different from other natural suede. 

3. Pigskin Suede

Compared to cowhide suede, pigskin suede is thinner and less sturdy. For a velvety surface, it is rubbed using a sanding process. It takes a brief, choppy snooze. After getting wet, pigskin suede does not get stiff. It is frequently used for wallets, shoes, and labor gloves. Deerskin, lambskin, and goatskin suede are more expensive than pigskin suede. Pigskin suede is made using a seeding technique and is better suited for work gloves, shoes, wallets, and purses. With a brief nap, it’s a little stiff.

4. Cowhide Suede

The most used kind of suede is made from Cowhide. It is constructed from a cow’s innermost layer of hide. The strongest and thickest suede is made from Cowhide. Cowhide suede is velvety and has a long nap. It is frequently employed for clothing, footwear, furniture, and other products that require a strong yet flexible material. Lambskin and deerskin suede are more expensive than cowhide suede. Because it is softer than cowhide suede, suede made from calf leather is frequently used in high-end clothing. Though a touch rough, Cowhide makes excellent leather and is regarded as the roughest suede. Due to their young, calves provide the best suede.

5. Goatskin Suede

The skin of young goats is used to make goatskin suede. Its surface is delicate and velvety, resembling lambskin suede. It is more resilient and slightly heavier than lambskin suede. Goatskin suede is more resilient and has better insulation than lambskin. Gloves, shoes, book covers, and other clothing that call for soft fabric frequently employ goatskin suede. It costs more than suede made from Cowhide and pigskin.

Other Types of Suede

While there is only one kind of actual suede, there are a few substitutes for it that, in some instances, may be referred to as suede.

1. Ultrasuede

Wait roughly five minutes if something is out of your price range. Someone will present a more affordable option. This includes clothes, shoes, and all the accessories that go with them—invented by a Japanese scientist, Ultrasuede. It comprises 80% polyester microfiber and 20% polyurethane plastic. Unlike its relatives made of animal skin, it can be cleaned and dried.

2. Nubuck

The animal skin’s top grain, or outside, is used to make nubuck. It is then polished and sanded to create a smooth, velvety material. The leather’s flaws, scratches, or stains are concealed by sanding and buffing. The same shoes, clothes, and accessories made with suede also employ nubuck leather.

3. Microsuede 

Millions of polyester fibers are used to create microsuede. Pets adore it, and it is simple to care for. It is soft like suede but has qualities that make it resistant to wear and stains. There are numerous hues and tones available. Ultrasuede, a copyrighted and trademarked product, was the previous name for microsuede. After the patent ran out, microsuede was easier to find and less expensive.

4. Velour Leather

Velour or velour leather and genuine suede may be confused in some instances. The fabrics’ extraordinary suppleness might cause this. Superficial differences exist between the two: one is derived from plants or synthetic fibers, while the other is derived from animals. Also, the two shall not meet. The same looms used for weaving velvet are also used to weave velvet; the warp and weft are combined to create a single, sturdy bolt of fabric. To distinguish between velvet and velour, they are polished in different ways. The materials are constructed from artificial synthetic cotton or silk yarn.

5. Faux Suede

A sort of synthetic fabric called faux suede is intended to resemble genuine suede in appearance and feel. Without using animal hide, it has all the same opulent characteristics as natural suede. In order to create a strong and lightweight material, polyester, nylon, or acrylic fibers are frequently combined to create faux suede. This fabric is ideal for all fashion projects because it is offered in various colors and finishes.

Uses of Suede

Pair of brown leather boots beside bet 

Numerous applications for clothing and accessories rely on suede fabric. This cloth can’t be used in industrial settings because it is fragile. Suede is a standard fabric used to create shoes, as seen by how deeply Elvis Presley’s version of “Blue Suede Shoes” has ingrained itself in our collective consciousness. Although suede is often a light brown or gray tint, several dyeing techniques can be used to change the color of this fabric to any desired shade of blue, red, yellow, or green.

1. Clothing and accessories

Due to its adaptability, many different types of apparel and accessories may be made from suede. Shoes, jackets, caps, belts, bags, and gloves are frequently made of it. It provides a refined touch to any outfit because of its plush texture and opulent appearance. The things manufactured from this fabric will last for many years because it is also incredibly strong and resistant to tearing.

2. Shoes

Suede is frequently used to make shoes, which can be elegant and fashionable. Due to its plush feel and opulent appearance, this fabric is particularly well-liked for dress shoes, which elevate any ensemble. Your shoes will last for years without displaying signs of wear and tear because it is also incredibly comfy and robust. Additionally, suede can be dyed in various hues to alter its appearance further.

3. Home Decor

Due to its abundant appearance and texture, suede is a great fabric for home décor projects. It can make exquisite rugs, throw pillows, curtains, and furniture upholstery. Any room in the house would benefit from the fabric’s softness and comfort, which makes it ideal for adding a touch of sophistication. Your home decor pieces will survive for years because it is also quite strong and resistant to tearing.

4. Upholstery

The upholstery industry is an excellent place to employ suede since it gives any piece of furniture an opulent, sophisticated look. Because suede is plush and cozy, it’s ideal for covering couches, chairs, and other furniture. Additionally, it is incredibly strong and resistant to damage, so your furniture will remain gorgeous for years with no upkeep. Additionally, suede can be dyed in various hues to alter its appearance further.

Conclusion

A range of fashion-related projects can be completed using suede, a beautiful and adaptable material. Polyester, nylon, and acrylic fibers are combined to generate a solid and lightweight material. Shoes, jackets, caps, belts, bags, and gloves are just a few examples of the clothes and accessories that may be made from it. It is also a fantastic option for home decoration tasks like making curtains, toss cushions, rugs, and furniture upholstery. Suede is typically thin, as opposed to conventional leather, which is usually very thick, which adds to its appeal for delicate textile applications. Since suede becomes dirty rapidly, owners of suede clothing, shoes, or accessories must have them professionally cleaned frequently to keep them in good shape.