Welcome to the world of suede leather, a material synonymous with luxury and sophistication in the fashion industry. Whether you're a style enthusiast or just curious about this popular textile, this comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know about suede - from its origins to how it's made, its uses in fashion, and tips for caring for it.
Suede is a type of leather with a napped finish, known for its soft, velvety texture. It's made from the underside of the animal skin, typically from lambskin, although goat, calf, and deer are also used.
Suede's journey began in France, where it was initially used to make women's gloves. The term "suede" comes from the French phrase "gants de Suède," which means "gloves from Sweden." Over time, it has evolved into a popular material for various fashion items due to its luxurious texture and versatility.
The process of creating suede involves splitting the skin. The inner layer is then sanded to produce a uniform, velvety surface. This process is delicate and requires skilled craftsmanship.
With growing environmental concerns, many manufacturers are adopting sustainable practices, such as eco-friendly tanning methods and ethical sourcing of materials.
From the 1960s' bohemian chic to modern-day high fashion, suede has been a constant presence in the fashion world. Its ability to add texture and depth to any outfit has made it a favorite among designers and stylists.
Suede can add a touch of elegance to any outfit, whether in the form of boots, jackets, or accessories. Pairing a suede jackets with jeans can elevate a casual look, while suede shoes can add sophistication to formal wear.
Tools Needed: A suede brush or a soft-bristled brush.
Method: Gently brush the surface to remove dirt and restore the nap. Brush in the direction of the fibers, not against them.
Suede Protector Sprays: Use a suede protector spray to shield against water and stains. It’s best to apply this when the suede is new and reapply every few months or after cleaning.
Application: Spray evenly over the surface from a distance of about six inches. Let it dry completely.
Tools: A suede eraser or a pencil eraser.
Method: Gently rub the eraser over the stain. Once the stain lifts, brush the area to restore the nap.
Blotting: Use a clean, dry cloth to blot any excess liquid immediately. Never rub, as it can spread the stain.
Drying: Let the suede air dry. Avoid using heat sources like hair dryers, as they can cause the suede to become stiff.
DIY Cleaning Solution
Mixture: Mix equal parts white vinegar or rubbing alcohol with water.
Application: Dip a clean cloth in the solution and wring it out. Dab the stained area gently, then let it dry.
Drying: If your suede gets wet, pat it with a clean towel and let it air dry.
Restoring: Once dry, use a suede brush to gently restore the nap.
Avoid Humidity: Store suede in a cool, dry place to prevent mildew and moisture damage.
Breathable Cover: Use a breathable cover like a cotton bag. Avoid plastic, as it can cause dryness and cracks.
For tough stains or overall cleaning, it’s wise to take your suede items to a professional cleaner specializing in leather and suede.
Avoid Water Exposure: Suede is not naturally water-resistant, so try to avoid wearing suede items in rainy weather.
Mindful Use: Be cautious of where you sit or what you brush against when wearing suede, as it can easily pick up dirt and stains.
The production of suede, like any animal-derived product, raises ethical concerns. It's important to be aware of the origins of the suede you purchase and support brands that prioritize responsible sourcing.
Faux suede offers a cruelty-free alternative and has become increasingly popular in recent years. Advances in textile technology have made faux suede a viable option for those seeking ethical fashion choices.