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What is Suede?

What is Suede?

As you go around shopping reading fashion magazines, we encounter the term Suede. Although we may have an idea what it is, what exactly is it? How is it different from full-grain leather? In the succeeding sections, we will be giving you all the information you need.

What is Suede?

What is Suede?

Suede is a type of leather made from the underside of animal skin, giving it a soft surface and napped finish. It is primarily made from sheepskin, but could also be made from other animal skins such as goats, cows, deer, pigs, and other animals. Suede, however, is softer, thinner, and not as durable as full-grain leather which is used to produce Crazy Horse Leather.

What are the Origins of Suede?

Leather is easily one of the most useful and earliest discoveries of man. It was used by our ancestors as a protective covering against elements such as heat, cold, rain, and other hazards present in the environment. Tanning processes are used to show off the hide’s outer layer called grain. During the process, grain sides would be accidentally scratched and rendered unusable. As time went by, tanners discovered that these scratched grain sides could be put to use by making Suede. The underside of the animal hide was carefully processed, and the material is used from inside-out... TADA! We have Suede.

gants de Suède
gants de Suède | image credit:

The term suede comes from the French term gants de Suède, which literally means “gloves from Sweden”. Originally, the phrase was used to refer to a specific type of very soft gloves imported from Sweden. Eventually, the term Suede was coined to refer to any type of leather material with a napped finish. Suede can be made from any animal skin. Furthermore, the age of the animal also affects the quality of the material. Older animals tend to have thicker hides resulting in a napped texture that is not as soft and light as what people prefer.

During the 20th Century, suede became a popular fashion trend. In fact, Suede was used by famous fashion designers like Givenchy, Hermes, and Paquin due to the material’s versatility and delicate look. Eventually, designers all over the world worked with tanneries to develop their own take of the material. These collaborations resulted in the creation of unique techniques in making this unique type of leather.

How is it made?

Suede is a type of leather made from any kind of animal skin. However, there are two techniques in making it. The first technique is done by just turning the animal hide upside down which exposes the softer side of the animal hide. This technique, however, results in a sturdier material that takes away the delicate quality of suede leather. Hence, this technique is not popularly used.

The second technique is done by splitting the leather, removing the upper grain, and only revealing the napped underside of the animal hide. This technique is more preferred than the previous one because the fuzzy material is visible on both sides of the fabric. In addition, this results in a softer and more flexible material for making leather accessories.

What are the types of Suede?

There are different kinds of suede available worldwide. The types of such material usually depend on the animal skin used. Animal skin used can range from sheepskin, pigskin, or cowhide. Each type is described below:

  • Sheepskin. Sheepskin is the most common animal hide used for Suede leather. It is popular for its flexible and brush textured surface. Furthermore, it is the most lightweight and delicate suede out of all the other types. Although it is not waterproof, it is a perfect clothing material that would keep you warm during the cold winter months.
  • Pigskin. This type of animal skin is the least popular among the three. This is because it has a tougher and firmer texture, and also a shorter nap. Even so, pigskin is still used because it is the sturdiest material out of all the other types, and could last for a long time.
  • Cowhide. Last but not least is cowhide. As previously mentioned, an animal’s age is a factor that affects the quality of suede leather. Consequently, calves produce softer and lighter hide compared to older cows. Cowhide is as soft as sheepskin but not as popular as the latter. Nevertheless, it is very durable and long-lasting.

Different animal skins result in different kinds of Suede leather for different leather accessories. It is undoubtedly a fashionable and trendy material that has been in the fashion world for ages.

What is the difference between suede and full-grain leather?

One of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to purchasing leather is What is the difference between suede and full-grain leather?

First off, Suede is a popular type of leather known for its velvety surface. It is commonly produced by splitting leather to reveal the underside of the animal hide creating a napped surface. However, it can also be made by using full-grain leather. Suede is popular for its naturally decorative and aesthetic qualities in upholstery, shoes, bags, and even curtains. Despite its fashionable and trendy qualities, the material is not as hardy as full-grain leather. It must be properly taken care of to retain its good looks.

Full-grain leather, on the other hand, is made from the strongest part of the animal’s skin which makes the material the strongest and most hardy. The highest quality of full-grain leather is used to produce Crazy Horse Leather, the material used in our The Erlend Duffle Bag. Full-grain leather is resistant to levels of damage from prolonged moisture exposure and has a very attractive visual quality that ages beautifully over time. As it is regularly used, it develops a patina on the surface that is pleasing to the eye and also adds a layer of protection.

The Erlend Duffle Bag | Vintage Leather Weekender
The Erlend Duffle Bag | Vintage Leather Weekender

So, there you go. Suede is a wonderful material for leather accessories. It is fashionable and versatile. Although it is not as sturdy as full-grain leather, it could last for a long time if well-taken care of. Now that you are equipped with information, check out other leather accessories available here at Steel Horse Leather.