Nubuck vs Suede: Understanding the Differences

Photo of green nubuck on the left and yellow suede on the right. Nubuck vs Suede.

When it comes to choosing between nubuck vs suede, it can be difficult to know which is the best option for your needs. Both materials have a soft, velvety texture and are commonly used in footwear, clothing, and accessories.

However, there are some key differences between nubuck and suede that can affect their durability, appearance, and maintenance requirements.

One of the main differences between nubuck and suede is the part of the hide they are made from. Nubuck is made from the outer layer of the hide, which is sanded and buffed to create a soft, velvety texture.

Suede, on the other hand, is made from the inner layer of the hide, which is the softer, more fibrous part of the leather. This means that nubuck is generally more durable and resistant to wear and tear than suede, but it may also be more expensive.

Key Takeaways:

  • Nubuck and suede are both soft, velvety materials commonly used in footwear, clothing, and accessories.
  • Nubuck is made from the outer layer of the hide and is generally more durable and resistant to wear and tear than suede, which is made from the inner layer of the hide.
  • Both materials can be of high quality if made from good materials and processed correctly, but nubuck is considered to be of higher quality due to its stronger and more durable protein fibers.
  • Nubuck is generally more water-resistant than suede, making it a better choice for items that will be exposed to the elements.
  • Both nubuck and suede require special care and maintenance, but nubuck is generally easier to care for as it can be brushed and wiped clean with a damp cloth.
  • Nubuck shoes tend to be more expensive than suede shoes due to their durability and water resistance.
  • Nubuck and suede are used in various fashion items, including shoes, boots, gloves, jackets, handbags, and furniture upholstery.

Understanding Nubuck and Suede

If you are in the market for a new pair of shoes or a jacket, you may have come across the terms “nubuck” and “suede.” Both are types of leather that are popular for fashion items, but they have some differences that are worth noting.

Suede is made from the underside of the animal hide, while nubuck comes from the top grain of the hide. This means that suede is softer and more delicate than nubuck, which is more durable and sturdy. Both materials are made by sanding the leather to achieve their characteristic texture and touch.

When it comes to quality, both nubuck and suede can be of high quality if they are made from good materials and processed correctly. However, nubuck leather is generally considered to be of higher quality than suede because it comes from the top grain of the hide, which has stronger and more durable protein fibers.

It is worth noting that nubuck leather is a type of top-grain leather, which means that it has not been sanded or buffed on the grain side. This gives it a natural look and feel, and it can be more expensive than other types of leather.

When it comes to care and maintenance, both nubuck and suede require special attention to keep them looking their best. You should avoid getting them wet, as this can damage the material and cause it to lose its characteristic texture. You should also use a special brush to clean the material and avoid using any harsh chemicals or cleaners.

Key Differences Between Nubuck vs Suede Leather

If you’re in the market for a new leather item, you may have come across the terms “nubuck” and “suede.” While these two materials may look and feel similar, there are some key differences between them that you should be aware of before making a purchase.

1. Source of Leather

The primary difference between nubuck and suede is the source of the leather. Nubuck leather is made from the outer layer of a hide, while suede is made from the inner layer. This means that nubuck is generally more durable and resistant to wear and tear than suede.

2. Texture and Appearance

Nubuck and suede have a similar texture and appearance, but there are some slight differences. Nubuck has a slightly rougher texture and a more consistent appearance, while suede has a softer texture and a more varied appearance due to the way it is made.

3. Water Resistance

Another key difference between nubuck and suede is their water resistance. Nubuck is more resistant to water and stains than suede, making it a better choice for items that will be exposed to the elements, such as shoes or jackets.

4. Maintenance and Care

Both nubuck and suede require special care and maintenance to keep them looking their best. However, nubuck is generally easier to care for than suede, as it can be brushed and wiped clean with a damp cloth. Suede requires more specialized care, such as using a suede brush to remove dirt and stains.

5. Cost

Finally, nubuck is generally more expensive than suede due to its durability and water resistance. However, the cost difference may be worth it if you are looking for an item that will last for years to come.

Production Process

When it comes to the production process, both nubuck and suede are made from the same material: animal hides. However, the process of creating each type of leather is slightly different, which results in different textures and finishes.

Suede is made by splitting the hide into two layers, the top grain and the flesh side. The top grain is used for full-grain leather, while the flesh side is used for suede. The flesh side is then sanded to create a soft, fuzzy texture. This process removes any imperfections and creates a consistent texture throughout the material. Suede can be dyed in a variety of colors, but it is important to note that the color may fade over time with wear.

Nubuck, on the other hand, is made by sanding the top grain of the hide. This creates a texture that is similar to suede but with a slightly different feel. Nubuck is more durable than suede and can be dyed in a range of colors. However, because it is made from the top grain of the hide, it is more expensive than suede.

Both nubuck and suede can be buffed to create a smoother finish. This process involves using a special machine to rub the material until it is smooth. Buffing can be done to both sides of the leather, but it is more commonly done to nubuck.

When it comes to choosing between nubuck and suede, it is important to consider the intended use of the material. Suede is softer and more delicate, making it better suited for dress shoes or accessories. Nubuck, on the other hand, is more durable and can withstand more wear and tear, making it a better choice for boots or outdoor gear.

Texture and Appearance

When it comes to texture and appearance, nubuck and suede share some similarities. Both materials possess a soft, velvety texture, which is achieved through a sanding process. However, there are some differences that set them apart.

Nubuck leather has a finer nap than suede, and its velvety texture is more uniform. It also has a tighter grain, which gives it a smoother appearance. On the other hand, suede has a coarser nap, which gives it a more rustic and natural look. Its grain is also looser, which gives it more character.

In terms of suppleness and pliability, both nubuck and suede are excellent choices. They are both soft and flexible, which makes them comfortable to wear and easy to work with. However, nubuck is generally considered to be more durable than suede, thanks to its tighter grain and finer nap.

Another important factor to consider is patina. Both nubuck and suede develop a unique patina over time, which is a result of wear and exposure to the elements. However, nubuck tends to develop a more even and consistent patina, while suede can develop a more varied and unpredictable patina.

Durability and Care

When it comes to choosing between nubuck and suede, durability is an important factor to consider. Both materials are made from the inner layer of animal hides, which makes them prone to damage and wear over time. However, nubuck is generally considered more durable than suede due to its stronger fibers and tighter grain.

To keep your nubuck or suede items looking their best, it’s important to take proper care of them. Here are a few tips to help you maintain their appearance:

  • Brush regularly: Use a soft-bristled brush to gently remove dirt and debris from the surface of your nubuck or suede items. This will help prevent damage and keep them looking clean.
  • Treat stains immediately: If you notice a stain on your nubuck or suede item, it’s important to treat it right away. Use a specialized cleaner or eraser designed for the material, and follow the instructions carefully.
  • Avoid water damage: Nubuck and suede are both water-resistant, but they can be damaged by excessive moisture. Avoid wearing them in wet conditions, and if they do get wet, allow them to dry naturally and avoid heat sources.
  • Use waterproofing products: To further protect your nubuck or suede items from water damage, consider using a waterproof coating or spray. Be sure to follow the instructions carefully and test the product on a small, inconspicuous area first.
  • Seek professional cleaning: If your nubuck or suede items are heavily soiled or stained, it may be best to seek professional cleaning services. Be sure to choose a cleaner who is experienced with these materials and can provide the care they need.

Usage in Fashion

When it comes to fashion, both nubuck, and suede are popular choices for a variety of items, including shoes, boots, gloves, jackets, handbags, and other accessories. The unique texture and softness of both materials make them a popular choice for designers who want to create a fashion statement that is both stylish and comfortable.

One of the main benefits of nubuck and suede is that they can be used in a variety of different styles and designs. They are both versatile materials that can be used to create a range of different looks, from casual and laid-back to more formal and sophisticated. For example, nubuck and suede shoes and boots can be paired with jeans or a dress for a chic and stylish look.

In terms of comfort, both nubuck and suede are known for their softness and flexibility. They are both breathable materials that allow your feet to stay cool and dry, even in warm weather. Additionally, both materials are durable and can withstand regular wear and tear, making them a great choice for everyday use.

When it comes to differences between nubuck and suede, nubuck is generally considered to be more durable and long-lasting than suede. This is because nubuck is made from the top grain of the hide, which is tougher and more resistant to wear and tear. Suede, on the other hand, is made from the inner layer of the hide, which is softer and more delicate.

If you are looking for a pair of gloves, you may want to consider nubuck gloves from Sweden or gants de suède from France. These gloves are made from high-quality nubuck leather and are known for their softness, flexibility, and durability.

Specific Products and Brands

When it comes to specific products and brands, there are many options available in both nubuck and suede materials. Here are a few examples:

  • Timberland: Timberland is a well-known brand that offers a range of boots in both nubuck and suede materials. Their classic 6-inch boot is available in both materials and is a popular choice for those looking for a durable and stylish boot.
  • Taft Dragon Boot: The Taft Dragon Boot is a unique and stylish option for those looking for a nubuck boot. The dragon scale pattern adds a touch of personality to the boot, while the nubuck material provides durability and comfort.
  • Elvis: Elvis Presley famously sang about his “blue suede shoes,” and suede shoes have been a popular choice ever since. There are many brands that offer suede shoes, from dress shoes to sneakers.
  • Collection: Many fashion collections offer both nubuck and suede options for their clothing and accessories. For example, a suede jacket can add a touch of style to any outfit, while a nubuck purse can be a durable and fashionable choice.

When choosing between nubuck and suede, it’s important to consider the specific product and its intended use. Nubuck is generally more durable and water-resistant, making it a good choice for boots and outdoor wear. Suede, on the other hand, is softer and more flexible, making it a good choice for clothing and accessories.

Cost Considerations

When it comes to cost, both nubuck and suede shoes tend to be more expensive than regular leather shoes. This is because the production process for these types of leather is more complicated and requires a higher level of skill. However, there are some cost considerations that you should keep in mind when deciding between nubuck and suede.

Firstly, nubuck shoes are generally more expensive than suede shoes. This is because nubuck is made from the outer layer of the leather, which is thicker and more durable. Additionally, nubuck shoes require more maintenance than suede shoes, which can also add to the overall cost.

When it comes to maintenance, both nubuck and suede shoes require regular care to keep them looking their best. This includes waxing, spraying with waterproof spray, and using UV protection to prevent fading. However, suede shoes tend to be more forgiving when it comes to water damage, as they can often be brushed back into shape after they dry.

If you do decide to invest in a pair of nubuck or suede shoes, it’s important to choose a high-quality product that will last. Look for shoes that are made from top-grain leather and have a strong, durable sole. You can also save money in the long run by investing in a good quality waterproof spray and applying it regularly to your shoes.

In terms of brands, Kiwi is a popular choice for shoe care products and offers a range of sprays and waxes that are suitable for both nubuck and suede shoes. However, there are also many other brands on the market that offer similar products, so it’s worth doing some research to find the best option for your needs.

Materials Comparison

When it comes to choosing between nubuck and suede, the type of animal hide used is a crucial factor to consider. Nubuck is typically made from calf or cowhide, while suede can be made from a variety of hides, including calfskin, lambskin, and goat.

One of the key differences between nubuck and suede is the part of the hide that they are made from. Nubuck comes from the top grain of the hide, which is sanded to create a soft, velvety texture. Suede, on the other hand, comes from the inner layer of the hide, which is sanded to create a similar texture, but with a slightly different feel.

Full-grain leather is often used to make nubuck, while suede is typically made from split leather. Split leather is created by splitting the hide into two layers, with the top layer used to make full-grain leather and the bottom layer used to make suede.

Another important factor to consider is the tanning process used to treat the leather. Vegetable-tanned leather is often used to make nubuck, while suede is typically treated with a chemical tanning process.

When it comes to durability, nubuck is generally considered to be more hard-wearing than suede. This is because nubuck is made from the top grain of the hide, which is stronger and more resistant to wear and tear.

In terms of maintenance, both nubuck and suede require special care to keep them looking their best. It is important to avoid getting them wet, as this can cause water stains and damage the texture of the leather. To clean nubuck or suede, use a soft brush or cloth to gently remove dirt and stains.

Other Uses of Nubuck and Suede

Nubuck and suede are not just for shoes and boots. They are also popular materials for furniture, wallets, and other accessories. Here are some other uses for nubuck and suede:

Furniture

Nubuck and suede are popular choices for furniture upholstery. They give furniture a luxurious, velvety texture that is both soft and durable. Nubuck is often used for high-end furniture because it is more durable and resistant to stains than suede. Suede, on the other hand, is softer and more delicate, making it better suited for low-traffic areas.

Wallets

Nubuck and suede are also popular materials for wallets. They are lightweight and flexible, making them easy to carry around in your pocket or purse. Nubuck is often used for men’s wallets because it is more durable and can withstand the wear and tear of daily use. Suede is often used for women’s wallets because it has a softer, more feminine feel.

Imperfections

One thing to keep in mind when using nubuck or suede is that they are not perfect materials. They can show imperfections such as marks, scratches, and stains more easily than other materials. However, these imperfections can also add character and uniqueness to the material.

Tips for Care

To keep your nubuck or suede items looking their best, there are a few tips to keep in mind. First, always use a suede brush to gently remove any dirt or debris. Never use water or soap on nubuck or suede, as it can cause discoloration and damage. Instead, use a specialized suede cleaner to spot clean any stains. Finally, always store your nubuck or suede items in a cool, dry place to prevent mold and mildew.

FAQ: Nubuck vs Suede

How can you tell nubuck from suede?

Nubuck and suede look very similar, but there is a way to tell them apart. Nubuck has a finer texture and a more velvety feel than suede. You can also distinguish nubuck from suede by rubbing your finger across the surface. Nubuck will change color and appear lighter when you rub it, while suede will not.

Is Nubuck or Suede better?

It depends on what you’re looking for. Nubuck is more durable and resistant to wear, while suede is softer and more delicate. If you’re looking for a material that can withstand heavy use, nubuck is the better choice. However, if you’re looking for a material that is comfortable and has a luxurious feel, suede is the way to go.

What happens when Nubuck gets wet?

Nubuck is not waterproof, so it can get damaged when it gets wet. When nubuck gets wet, it can become discolored and lose its texture. To prevent damage, it’s important to let nubuck dry naturally and avoid exposing it to direct heat or sunlight.

Is nubuck tougher than suede?

Yes, nubuck is tougher than suede. Nubuck is made from the top grain of the hide, which is the strongest part of the animal’s skin. Suede, on the other hand, is made from the inner layer of the hide, which is softer and more delicate.

How to clean nubuck.

Cleaning nubuck can be tricky, but it’s important to keep it clean to prevent damage. To clean nubuck, start by brushing it with a soft-bristled brush to remove dirt and debris. Then, use a nubuck cleaner to remove any stains or marks. Finally, use a nubuck protector to prevent future stains and damage.

Andre from leatherninja.com

Andre is a passionate leatherworker who spends his spare time working with leather. He loves the smell and feel of leather, and he takes great care in selecting the right pieces of leather for his projects. Read more here.