Suede Guide 101 – Shoetorial

We’re now in the first official week of fall.  Nothing signals the start of autumn better than the busting out of suede shoes (from a sartorial perspective at least). From a sneaker to a tasseled loafer or a boot, suede is always a great option.  From work to weekend, a suede detail or a full-on suede, can make fall that much more stylish.

Here’s a quick Suede 101 ‘Shoetorial’:

-Suede is actually formed by sanding, or roughing up the tiny ends of the underside of leather, until a soft finish results. The name comes from the French term “gants de Suede,” or “gloves of Sweden.”

-Suede has a nap which is the key to giving suede its characteristic soft hand or feel. The fibers must be manipulated, in order to pull them up from the leather.

-Any fabric that has a nap can also be referred to as having a ‘sueded finish’ or having a suede-nap. An example being a pair of chinos. The technical suede, though, is that which is made from leather.

-Suede is actually made from many different types of animal hide. The most often used leather is lamb. Other animal hides used include cow (calf), goat, deer and pig/swine.

-Fine suede can a very delicate material and can be used in tailored clothing. Swine or pig suede is very durable and is often used for casual boots.

-It easily absorbs liquids and is difficult to clean. Always protect suede with stain guard spray, BEFORE wearing, and invest in a good suede brush.

-Always try to brush the nap of the suede in the same direction.

-Use the suede brush after each wearing (if possible), this will refresh the nap and clean the suede.

-When applying a stain protector, take the manufactures’ advise, and test in on a small area, maybe in the back, to prevent from ruining the color. Also, re-apply often, to keep the level of protection.

-Here’s a suggestion from our own Cator Sparks, by gently rubbing the shoes against on another, you will brush away the stain or mark, without damaging the nap.

-The last tip is to invest in a suede eraser or cleaning block which will crumble as you rub the stain. Then use your suede brush to remove the eraser crumbs.

Here are a five brands that are doing suede right.

Joules – This great canvas and suede shoe from a great British brand, how available in the U.S. is a perfect way to ease into some suede. Perfect to wear with your favorite pair of denim.

Tretorn for J. Press – This sporty collaboration can’t get much better.  It might just be the perfect shoe to sport with a tailored pair of khakis for a football game.

Cole Haan – An American Classic, Cole Haan has mixed suede with leather, along with a sneaker and a wingtip.  Comfort and style my friend.

Sebago – A suede demi-boot can go from the office to a more casual destination wedding.  Often known for their sailing or dockside perennials’, Sebago can do it all for fall.

Oliver Spencer – Another brand from across the pond. Oliver Spencer, known for his great tailored sportswear, gives us this dressy suede take on a tasseled favorite.