You've probably heard us talk about all sorts of materials that our shoes are crafted from, such as suede, but have you ever wondered what exactly that is?! Well, we are here to give you the low down so that you are as informed as you can be when it comes to purchasing your next new pair of suede shoes - let's go!
WHAT IS SUEDE AND HOW IS IT MADE?
Suede is a high-quality form of leather, which is made from the underside of the animal hide and is characterized by it's soft, slightly fuzzy napped surface.
Suede is created by separating the underside of the animal hide from the top. This means that suede is a split leather as it has been "split" from its other original layers that are tougher and less pliable. The result is a thin, softer, and flowier material than full-grain leather.
THE HISTORY OF SUEDE
Human beings have been utilizing animal hides for clothing and accessories for thousands of years yet the production of suede is relatively recent.
The term “suede” originates from the French term “gants de Suede,” which translates to “gloves of Sweden.” During the Romantic period in France in the late 18th Century, imports of Swedish leather were very highly popular among the French nobility. Instead of using the rough leather made from the outer layers of the hide, the artisans of Sweden invented a way to use the soft, inner skin of hides to create incredibly soft gloves for women.
For a number of decades, the use of suede stayed confined to gloves but eventually, European artisans recognised the possibilities for other uses, and suede started to be used in items from jackets, shoes, bags, and more.
ADVANTAGES OF SUEDE
- Elegant appearance: Suede has a matte appearance meaning that when it is dyed, it can hold more colour and therefore produce a richer, deeper colour. Plus the napped texture creates more depth and variation too, which is one of the reasons why suede is synonymous with high-end luxury.
- Pliable: Since it is a thinner and softer leather, it can be molded easily meaning that it can be used to create more interesting shapes, especially ones that hug the foot more or have drape.
- Versatility: While traditionally it was used for more winter-based styles, the material can be very trans-seasonal due to its pliable nature. Designers have been using suede for more summer-based designs for many seasons now and the material has taken on a new life.
- Comfort: The softness means that a style crafted from suede has more give and a softer feel on the wearer's foot. This is especially great for people with wider feet etc.
- Long-Lasting: Since suede is a form of leather, the material can last for an extremely long time when cared for properly.
HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR SUEDE PRODUCTS:
Since one of the disadvantages of suede products is that they can absorb water and pick up dirt easily - PREVENTION IS KEY! We suggest protecting your suede products with a waterproofing spray before wear and regularly topping this up over time. As well as this, it is a great idea to have a suede brush on hand to help remove any dirt particles as you see them.
This Collonil spray is our favourite and we use it on all our pieces (even leather, and fabric too!) It creates a complete barrier and keeps your shoes protected. To learn more about our Collonil products check out our shoe care blog here.