What is Suede?

What is Suede?

Perhaps the Elvis song “Blue Suede Shoes” comes to mind?

Suede, in short, is the soft fuzzy part on the bottom of leather. The part that would have attached to the inside of the cow. Suede as a material is made either by simply turning the leather upside down so the suede side faces up, or when the leather is split, and the top grain is taken away, leaving only the fuzzy underside, which is now on both sides.

What is suede?

The designs in the corners of this case were made by taking the same leather that it is made out of and turning it inside out. The result is a contrasting style, but the same durability.

The first method makes for a leather that is as strong as full grain leather and has similar attributes, but with a different look and feel. The second method usually makes for a very soft, pliable leather that is incredibly popular in everything from shoes, as seen above, to curtains to hats. It is way more common, and has very different attributes from full grain leather, so this second method is the one I will be talking about the most.

So…Is It Good?

Now that’s a good question. Suede is a lot like metallic leather. It has its purposes, and it is great at them, but you shouldn’t try and use it outside of those purposes. Suede is a luxurious fabric. It’s decorative. For example, suede drapes are wonderful. Drapes don’t see a whole lot of wear and tear, and the texture and appearance of the suede not only makes them feel nice when you are moving them, but it also gives the room a nice ambiance and makes you look like a very cultured host to whoever may be visiting your home.


Lovely as it may be, suede is not known for it’s toughness and resilience in the face of danger. If the world of leather were The Wizard of Oz, suede would be the lion. Fuzzy and majestic, but weak. Since suede is such a delicate thing, and usually decently expensive, you should be cautious about what suede products you buy, and then make sure you take proper care of them. For example, suede can be ruined by large amounts of water due to its porous nature, but there are suede protector products that you can treat it with to prevent this from occurring.


Now, this is not a hard and fast rule. As with all things, there are exceptions. A large determiner in leather strength is the thickness, and if you get suede that is relatively thick and heavy, it can be quite strong, and definitely outlast other inferior leathers. If you do have this stronger suede and you use it in settings with high wear and tear, eventually the “fuzzy” part of the suede will rub off, leaving it smooth. However, this is not the role that suede traditionally plays, and you don’t see it near as often.