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What is Suede and Nubuck Leather - A Complete Guide

Posted by Hannan Hassan on

What is Suede and Nubuck Leather - A Complete Guide

So, you have your heart set on a nubuck leather or suede jacket. What good taste you have! Not only will you be investing in a jacket that will last you for many years, but there are also many benefits to choosing nubuck leather or suede. Before you splash out on that new jacket, it's a good idea to learn a little more about these materials, their differences, how they are made and how to care for your jacket once you are the proud owner.

In this article, we'll give you the lowdown on nubuck leather and suede, the pros and cons and how you can buy a jacket with confidence.

What is Nubuck Leather?

If you're not familiar with nubuck leather, let us fill you in. Possibly the most important thing you need to know is that nubuck leather and suede are two completely different things, but you'd be forgiven for getting the two confused. Nubuck has a similar feel to suede but comes from the top grain of the hide making it more durable. It's used in a wide variety of different products, from clothing and shoes to furniture and bags.

Let's talk about how soft nubuck leather is. This type of leather is treated using a sanding or brushing process to give it a velvety look or feel. If you are looking for a leather jacket that oozes luxury, nubuck leather is a great choice. Nubuck is very versatile when it comes to making different products and can be dyed or stained in an array of different colors. To stay looking its best, nubuck leather needs a little tender loving care, but more on that later.

What are the Pros and Cons of Nubuck Leather?


One of the biggest pros of nubuck leather is its breathability. This is created by the sanding process and makes nubuck leather perfect for clothing, shoes and boots. In addition, nubuck leather is also water-resistant. However, you'll need to proof your leather jacket first with a specialty treatment if you want it to stand up to the elements. Nubuck leather is also extremely comfortable to wear and has a luxurious appearance that traditional leather cannot match.


While nubuck leather has lots of advantages, it has one major flaw; it can get stained very easily. Products are available that you can use on your jacket to help to lessen the effect of staining, but they aren't infallible. Choosing a darker nubuck jacket is a good idea if you plan to wear your jacket every day. Another downside is that nubuck leather has a low UV resistance and is prone to fading with regular wear. However, this will be less of an issue if you choose a lighter color jacket.

Taking Care of your Nubuck Leather Jacket

Cleaning your nubuck leather jacket is easy and when done correctly, there is no reason why your jacket shouldn't stay looking its best for years to come. First and foremost, always try to remove any stain immediately to prevent it from settling into the fibers. Use a cleaner that is specifically made for leather accessories and a soft cloth. For oily stains, a leather degreaser will usually lift the stain out if you act quickly. If you prefer, you can take your nubuck jacket to the cleaners for professional care.

What is Suede?

Nubuck leather and suede are both similar in many ways. Just like nubuck, suede goes through a sanding process to achieve its iconic texture and touch. However, where nubuck comes from the top grain of the hide, suede comes from the inner layer of the hide and that makes it really unique.

You might not think that suede has anything on common with bread, but that analogy will help us to explain just how suede is made. No, we haven't lost our minds, but we do need you to use your imagination for a moment. Imagine that animal hide is like a loaf of bread. Now imagine that the leather is the crust and the suede is the soft and fluffy part of the loaf. While that inside is softer, it is less durable and will need a little extra care than normal leather. It's also more susceptible to water damage and stains as it is more porous than other types of leather. When it comes to suede jackets, it's a good idea to check the weather report before heading out the door. Suede, while high quality and stylish, won't hold up very well to a sudden downpour.

What are the Different Types of Suede?

Suede comes in several varieties:

  • Sheepskin suede: If you are looking for the softest suede jacket, sheepskin suede has a smooth nap and is also more lightweight than other suede types.
  • Cowhide suede: Cowhide suede, also known as split cowhide, bush coat, rough out and rawhide, is the roughest type of suede. It is thick and heavy duty. 
  • Pigskin suede: Commonly used in cheaper made products

What are the Pros and Cons of Suede


Suede has many advantages. If you are looking for a leather jacket with a smooth and luxurious feel and which feels soft and comfortable against the skin, you can't go wrong with suede. High-quality suede will also last for many years as long as it is cared for correctly. It's also easily pliable so can be easily fashioned into a range of shapes and designs.


Suede is typically thinner than normal leather and requires the right care to maintain its smooth appearance. Suede is not water-resistant and while it might be able to withstand a light rain shower, heavier rain is likely to cause stains and cause a patina to form in patches on the material. Dust and dirt can also settle into suede fibers easily.

Looking After Your Suede Jacket

If you wear your suede jacket regularly, it is inevitable that it will need a little cleaning and care at some point. While you could take your jacket to a professional cleaner, there are ways you can clean minor stains and spots easily yourself. Using a suede brush, you can brush in the direction of the suede grain to remove dirt, food or mud. You can also brush your jacket regularly to keep the suede soft.

Why Invest in a Nubuck Leather or Suede Jacket?

A leather jacket is one of the finest items of clothing you can own. Not only will this type of jacket see you through the years if looked after well, but it is the most versatile form of outerwear and can be worn with many different outfits. Experience the luxury of nubuck or suede for yourself by browsing our extensive range of quality jackets, coats and accessories.

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