Suede leather is something we've all seen and heard of. And let's admit, we just can't get enough of the stuff.
We're all attracted to the luxurious texture and multiple colours of suede. Still, do we know much about it? For example, what is suede, how is it made, and what are its different types? These are some of the questions that circle on everyone's mind.
That's why, to answer all your questions, we've compiled this guide to all the secrets of suede. After going through the following, you'll have no questions regarding suede whatsoever.
Let's get going.
Suede Leather: What Is It Exactly?
Put simply, suede is the soft underside of animal leather. When you turn leather jacket inside out, the internal, fuzzy texture comes to the surface. This is what we call as suede.
Suede has its origins in the primitive era when cavemen used to fashion clothes out of the animal hide. For the longest time, suede was used to make not only clothing but also decorative items for the household.
Then came the Industrial Revolution, and with it the introduction of chemical agents needed for tanning. This brought the leather industry to the forefront of technology.
To be accurate, suede gained popularity only in the 20th century. Due to its unmatched versatility and luxurious texture, suede quickly became a fashion must-have. Also, it came to be known as a status symbol reserved for the rich and noble.
In fact, the word 'suede' first originated in France and was used to denote Swedish gloves. The term signified a special kind of soft glove that was brought into France from Sweden. Eventually, it came to denote any soft leather with the underside exposed.
So, now we know about what suede is and its origins, let's take a look at how suede is made.
How To Make Suede?
The process of making suede can be divided into two types. In the first, the manufacturers simply turn the leather inside out. This results in the soft interior becoming the outer surface, while the sturdy leather forms the interior.
The second method of making suede requires cutting out the innermost layer of the hide. In order to maintain the softness of the leather, extra care must be taken. However, thicker leather can also be used to make suede, though the results aren't as good.
Judging The Quality Of Suede
In spite of being a high-quality leather, the quality of suede isn't measured as other leather types. The quality of suede is not only determined by the source of leather, but also its age. For example, both sheepskin and cowhide can be used to make quality suede, provided they've been aged right.
However, there's another side to the coin. The quality of suede is also determined by whether the leather is split. In the case of full grain leather, the low pliability means it would not make good suede. For getting the desired softness of suede, it's essential that the leather is split.
The Different Varieties Of Suede
Just like other leather types, suede too can be classified according to the animal from which it is sourced. The following are some of the common types of suede leather.
Suede made from the skin of lambs is of the finest quality in terms of softness and suppleness. Although sheepskin can also be used to make suede, the results are visibly different from that of lambskin.
Similar to the case with sheep, cowhide can also be used to make suede. However, suede made from calves gives the best quality in terms of softness and texture. Older, fully grown cows have tougher hides. As a result, the suede isn't as supple as it should be.
Pigskin can also be used to make suede. Quality-wise, Pigskin is heavy, stiff, and porous, similar to human skin. As a result, suede made from pigskin is durable, tough, and hardy. Pigskin suede is used to make a wide variety of products, ranging from shoes, bags to gloves, and jackets.
Caring For Your Suede
If there's one fact no one can deny about good quality suede jackets is that it's expensive. Naturally, you'd want to take good care of your suede articles. The best method to keep you suede items good as new is with regular care.
One of the first things to keep in mind when taking care of suede is not to let it get wet. Wet suede can become easily damaged. However, since you can't always guarantee that you won't be caught in the rain, it's best to treat your suede articles with a water repellent spray.