What is Suede Leather


Suede season is upon us, and we are grateful that such a warm and cozy material is available to us in fashion, since global warming is making our winters much more wintery. Suede is a great material for fashion apparel and is considered the velvet of leather.  The French would refer to a Swiss imported soft glove as “suede” and since then the term has stuck around and now it also refers to any material that has a soft nap finish.


Suede is a type of leather that is manufactured in a unique way.  Unlike leather, suede is processed by using the split sides of leather by tanning,  buffing and creating a napped finish on the flesh side of the hide which is the innermost part of the skin. This process creates a softer material that literally removes the tough exteriors of the skin that is normally associated with full-grain leather.

Leather hide  layers

Layers of a leather hide

Nubuck suede also referred to as full-grain suede is a suede that is processed by using a full- grain leather rather than the usual split hide layers of leather that create regular suede. This makes the suede much more durable and thicker. Nubuck suede is made by sanding the top grain of a hide with an emery wheel to create the smooth even velvety nap. High fashion designers tend to use Nubuck suede over the typical suede since it will create a product that will have a longer shelf life. When it comes to upholstered furniture, it is better to use Nubuck suede since it is stronger and thicker and will be able to withstand the wear and tear of daily use. Nubuck suede is a premium leather and great for quality leather products.

Rag & Bone Leighton Nubuck Leather Ankle Boots in Beige

Rag & Bone Leighton Nubuck Leather Ankle Boots in Beige

Benefits of suede leather :

-Split hide suedes are cheaper than full grain leather

-Suede is malleable, soft and has a delicate appearance which makes for a great fit in garments.

-Colors are more vibrant and saturated in suede due to the nap finish that absorbs the dyes readily.

-Suede is great for shoes, gloves, coats, shirts, handbags, upholstery as well as lining for leather goods.

-Suede resists wind making it perfect for the colder seasons.

The downside to suede, is that it is a high maintenance material. Suede is prone to mildew if liquid is spilled on it and not removed quickly. Just as dyes are absorbed easily into the nap finish so are stains. The best method to keep your suede products in good condition is to clean it as soon as possible so the stain or water damage does not set in. The nap of suede can be restored by using a brush or sandpaper to even out the finish.
A suede finish can be applied to other animal hides beside the most common cowhide. Sheep, pig, and even goat are are  commonly used hides in the production of suede. The sheep and goat hide suede are perfect for more delicate and softer designed products such as apparel, since the skins are thinner, the results are a more pliable material.  While pig and cow suede is more thick and tough and best suited for shoes and handbags which require more durability.

United Leather carries calf suede and pig suede both in splits and Nubuck. United Leather has suede available in 30 beautiful color options. Now that you understand  what suede is and its characteristics, you will be able to work with it with more confidence.

unitedleather.com calf-suede Kelly-green

unitedleather.com calf-suede Kelly-green


Sound off below and describe your next suede leather project  or your favorite suede fashions.