Suede: definition, differences with leather, how do they make it

suede leather

The word “suede” is strictly connected with the fashion industry from its origin since it referred to a special type of gloves imported from Sweden.
Suede comes from the French Suède that simply means Sweden and gloves were called gants de Suède. Originally Suede was used for a wide range of Winter outfits, including gloves and jackets, while today it is well appreciated in many other different sectors from upholster furniture to footwear industry.

What is Suede? A definition

As a customer, you have probably come across the word suede in many shops or fashion magazines. But what is Suede? And how is it made? are common questions that need a simple answer.
Rather than a special leather, the term Suede refers to a peculiar finish of leather (usually from cowhide) that gives the fabric a soft and warm effect. In a nutshell, leather is the whole complex of hides (python, cow, sheep and so on) while suede is the result of a specific leather manufacturing; that’s why we also refers to “suede leather”.

How is it made?

Leather manufacturing is a complex and ancient process that transforms hides into our favourite items and accessories. Suede is part of such a process and it is usually made of cow leather in a peculiar way that lends leather softness and delicacy.

Suede is the inner surface of animal hides and it is often used by manufactures and designers turning leather upside down so suede is on the exterior. This is a simple method that usually doesn’t guarantee the qualities which suede it is well known for.

A more common and effective process is used by splitting hides to remove the upper grain part to get only the soft and napped inner surface. Thanks to such a method both parts have similar features creating a pliable and soft suede leather.

suede Apple Watch bands

What is Suede leather made from?

Suede leather can be made from a great variety of hides: almost every animal hide can be used to create Suede leather. As we said the term refers to the inner part of animal hide and the peculiar characteristics of suede depends on the type of animal used to make it.

Old and thick animal hides have a significant (not positive) effect on the result so that suede leather will be very far from the softness we are accustomed to: the material quality is one more time the most important feature of the whole leather manufacturing process.

What are the differences between Suede and leather?

There are no differences because Suede is not a variety of leather but it’s a peculiar finish of the leather manufacturing process that gives suede leather softness and lightness. You could think of Suede as a peculiar quality of leather that comes from a specific “upside down” process.

What is Suede used for?

Elvis Presley Suede shoes


At this point you are maybe wondering what is Suede actually used for?
Probably the most iconic items made of Suede leather are the “ Blue Suede Shoes”. That’s the story, more or less.
Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash were in a food queue and someone in front of them cried: “ Hey don’t step on my blue suede shoes! “.
At that period Presley was in need of a successful song after Heartbreak Hotel and in a morning he wrote Blue Suede Shoes that jumped the top of the US charts. But blue suede shoes really existed and they were cheap and crude shoes made for emerging youth market with soles more like platforms. After his hit Elvis ordered a pair of them in 1956 and 38 years later they were displayed at Elvis-A-Rama institution in Las Vegas.
Not so bad for a Suede leather pair of shoes. 

Watch bands and other items

The softness and natural lightness of Suede leather makes it perfect for all those accessories that stay in contact with our skin. Among them suede leather is especially used in watch band manufacturing able to guarantee a warm touch around your wrist.

You can choose among different types of suede leather Apple Watch bands from the Nappa to the Python one because every suede item is made of the best leather quality, certified according to the highest standard of REACH regulations.

Another popular use for suede leather is traditional western leather jackets, as well as clothing and fashion accessories. It is also very common in upholstery and footwear industry for its softness and delicacy.

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