Is Suede Leather?

May 04, 2022 5 min read

Is Suede Leather?

The numerous purses, wallets, and jackets made out of suede have people wondering, "Is suede leather? Or is it an entirely different material?"

Suede is the Rodney Dangerfield of materials--it doesn't get the respect it deserves.

While some people might not know quite what it is, they've certainly seen and felt suede before. That fuzzy, luxurious fabric is often used in making jackets, purses, and wallets. But what exactly is suede? Where does it come from? How does one clean and care for it?


Suede leather bags


We've got the scoop on suede, especially considering we have an outstanding suede crossbody bagsuede tote, and suede bag with bracelet in our collection!

First things first, are leather and suede the same?

Is Leather And Suede The Same Thing?

The quick answer is no, traditional leather and suede are not the same things, but they are both derived from the same material--animal skin.

In short, traditional leather is made when the animal's skin is treated with chemicals and then dyed. After the hide has been stretched and dried, it's finally ready to be used in manufacturing all sorts of things like shoes, belts, and furniture.

On the other hand, suede is created when the underside of the animal skin is brushed to create a nap. A nap is the collection of raised fibers on the material's surface that gives it a fuzzy appearance. Once the nap has been created, the skin is then dyed and treated to become suede.

This process gives suede its unique velvety texture that's different from regular leather. Suede is also thinner and more delicate than leather, which means it's often used in garments and accessories where a softer feel is desired.

Suede is also less durable than leather. Outside elements like the weather and products can easily damage the napped surface of suede, so it's not the best material for items that will see a lot of wear and tear.

So, is suede leather? If we're defining leather, it is a material made from animal skin, so since suede is made from animal skin, yes, suede is a form of leather.

However, suede is very different from the traditional grain leather used in many of our handbags here at MAYKO.

How so?

What Is The Difference Between Suede And Grain Leather?

The difference between suede and grain leather comes down to how the material is processed and felt.

Grain leather is made from the entire skin of an animal, while suede is made only from the underside or flesh side of a hide.

When crafting grain leather, the top layer of skin--also known as the grain--is separated from the bottom layer and then tanned, chemically treated, and dyed to create a smooth and durable material.

With suede, the skin is tanned but then sanded with a wire brush to raise the fibers on its surface. This gives it its napped texture, as we mentioned above.

The feel between suede and grain leather is very different as well. While grain leather is primarily smooth with a few raised bumps, suede has a fuzzy, velvety feel. Suede is much softer and more delicate than grain leather.

Now, we know from our previous blog posts that leather in its nature is not waterproof, but what about suede?

Is Suede Leather Waterproof?

No, suede is not waterproof.

This is because the nap on the suede's surface can easily absorb water and other liquids, leading to staining. So, it's best to avoid wearing suede in the snow, rain, or other wet environments. (Even trying to avoid pesky sprinkler systems that seem to love to turn on the second we walk by the yard!)

If you get your suede item wet, the best thing to do is let it air dry naturally. If you try to speed up the process by using a hairdryer or other heating element, you can damage the suede.

This probably goes without saying, but never put suede in the washing machine as this will ruin the material.

However, can you make suede waterproof?

Yes, there are some products available and on the market that can waterproof suede, and we recommend using them on your handbags if you plan on using your suede handbag in wet weather. Always give the spray plenty of time to dry thoroughly after application (at least overnight), and before you apply it, check to see that your handbag is completely dry.

Is Suede Leather Easy To Clean?

Due to the nature of suede leather, it can be rather tricky to clean.

Suede is prone to staining from any type of liquid, so it's essential to take extra care when using or wearing suede to avoid the more challenging cleaning process.

Cleaning Suede

Since suede naturally absorbs liquids or residual oils from lotions, sunscreens, and other products, cleaning suede isn't always the easiest.

Of course, avoiding a deep clean on your suede starts with preventing stains in the first place. Using a suede protector spray before wearing or using your item will help repel any liquids or oils that may cause staining.

If you find yourself with 'dirty' suede, it's important to treat spills and stains quickly. 

Blot any liquid with a clean rag or paper towel to prevent excess absorption. And if you have water stains, again, please do not use heat like a blow dryer to dry the stain!! 

Heat on suede will cause the material to shrink, wrinkle, fade or warp the entire fabric.

Afterwards, the best way to remove the stain is by using a suede eraser or brush to lift the stain from the nap of the material. 

Once the majority of the stain has been lifted, use a specifically designed suede cleaning spray to remove any remaining residue.


Cleaning Suede Leather


If you have an exceptionally dirty suede item, we suggest taking it to a professional cleaner who has experience with suede. Using an experienced cleaner will help prevent further damage and ensure that your suede handbag stays looking great for years to come!

In Summary

Suede is a beautiful material to work with and wear as clothing or as a handbag! But is suede leather?

It sure is. It is just a different type. Suede is not one of the conventional types of leather, but it is still made from animal skin- the flesh side of the skin, where grain leather is made from the top of the skin.

Suede has a velvety, super soft finish that makes for gorgeous handmade handbags here at MAYKO. Suede is a high-quality material and can be made in multiple colors, like our red suede crossbody bag! However, it does take an effort to clean and keep clean.

Ensuring you don't use your purse in rainy or snowy weather or during outings that could potentially expose your bag to oils like lotions, sunscreens, etc., will help keep your suede purse in an ideal state.

Even if you get a minor water stain or another type of stain on your handbag, professional services are all around and willing to clean your bag on a professional level to avoid damaging your bag further.

Buy your next MAYKO suede handbag with confidence in its high leather quality, and wear those bold suede colors fearlessly as you own the true fashionista you are!

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