Leather vs Suede – Which Is Better?

Leather is the quintessential winter material. It keeps you warm, looks stylish, and lasts for years. Usually seen on jackets and boots, leather can also be found in a host of other items.

Suede is a type of leather that has a velvety finish. It is used in primarily shoes and jackets and is a great fabric for the fall season.

But how do the two fabrics stand up against each other?

To figure this out, I decided to do a few tests on the suede and leather clothing that I owned. I compared their weight, durability, maintenance, and much more.

In this guide, I would cover the whole suede vs leather debate and go over a few key differences between the two fabrics.

Difference Between Leather And Suede

LeatherSuede
It is made from the deeper layers of animal hide.It is made from the top layer of animal skin.
Soft and buttery to touch.Velvety and matted to the touch.
Leather tends to be more expensive.Suede is relatively inexpensive.
A durable material that can last a lifetime.Suede is a bit more delicate.
Not much maintenance is needed.Proper maintenance is required.
Leather deals with water much better.Prone to water damage.
Best for the winter season.Best for the fall season.

Both leather and suede are great materials and should be found in everyone’s closet. They often complement each other and cover each other’s weaknesses.

While both materials are made from animal hide and thus are, technically speaking, “leather”, suede is made from the inside of the top layer of animal skin, which gives it its definitive velvety texture.

Pros And Cons Of Leather

Advantages of leather

1. Robustness of leather

Leather items are suitable for a wide variety of weather conditions. You can wear them in the snow, in the fall, and even in the springtime.

They are so robust and weatherproof that all you need to do is perform some basic leather maintenance, and you would be fine. This is due to leather’s inherent toughness.

Leather, as I have indicated throughout this guide, is a highly strong and durable material. It does not necessitate a lot of upkeep.

2. Warmth provided

Leather, out of all the materials that are used to make jackets and boots, is likely to deliver the most warmth to your body.

Leather is a dense substance that prevents air from passing through. This will keep you warm during the winter months. Depending on what kind of leather you are going for, it can be fairly slim which is going to help with layering.

3. Leather products are very durable

The reason I advise individuals to choose leather over suede (all things being equal, which they never are) is that it is more durable and provides a better return on investment.

In fact, I own a pair of leather boots that have lasted more than ten years! It doesn’t get much more robust than a solid, sturdy pair of premium leather boots when it comes to footwear.

And similarly, it doesn’t get better than a quality leather jacket when it comes to the longevity of outerwear pieces.

Disadvantages of leather

1. Heavy

Leather products, especially when compared to suede, tend to be a little heavier due to their robustness and thickness.

Again, a lot of it boils down to the style of shoe or jacket that you decide to wear.

For example, knee-high military boots will be heavier than chukka boots, so make sure you know what you want to buy.

If you absolutely hate wearing heavy shoes, I recommend that you go for some lightweight suede options.

2. Costly

Quality leather items are not cheap. Because you will be wearing the same thing for years, you should treat them as an investment. In particular, leather jackets are often resold at a price point that’s higher than their original cost.

There are leather boots and jackets that are available at a lower price point, but most of them will lack quality features like a Goodyear welt or a full-grain or top-grain leather upper.

Pros And Cons Of Suede

Advantages of Suede

1. Lightweight

Suede boots and jackets are substantially lighter than leather boots and jackets because suede is a much thinner material. This facilitates movement and is especially beneficial to people who suffer from foot and back problems.

The production method of suede is the cause for its lightness. Suede is created by sanding down an animal’s skin. This sanding removes a lot of the weight and makes the entire fabric, and in turn, garment, lighter.

2. Textured and velvety finish

The velvety smoothness of suede is what sets it different from everything else on the market. This texture enhances the three-dimensionality of a garment by adding an additional layer.

Suede gets its texture from the microscopic strands on its surface, which are collectively referred to as the suede’s “nap.”

These fibers give the fabric its trademark velvety look because of their “flow” in a particular direction.

3. Relatively inexpensive

Suede is, generally speaking, less expensive than leather. Because it is made after sanding down the outer portion of an animal’s hide, it is slightly easier to manufacture. Overall costs are reduced as a result of this.

However, the brand and quality of the suede play a big role. Suede from specific manufacturers can be found for a very expensive price.

Disadvantages of Suede

1. Suede requires regular maintenance

The most significant downside of suede is that it demands a great deal of upkeep. There are numerous ways to get your suede dirty, and cleaning it requires the use of a special cleaning kit.

Not to mention suede’s low water resistance, which makes wearing suede boots and jackets in the rain super difficult.

2. Fashion-oriented rather than utility-oriented

Suede items aren’t meant to be worn around the house or when running errands; they’re more of a fashion statement. When you buy a suede jacket or a pair of suede boots, you don’t buy them because they’ll last in a variety of situations; you buy them only because they’ll look good.

I don’t look for a lot of utility in my clothing, but if you do, I recommend investing in some leather instead.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is leather better than suede?

Leather is better than suede in terms of durability, longevity, toughness, and warmth provided. It is much easier to maintain and provides a lot of utility too

Is leather easier to clean than suede?

Yes, leather is much easier to clean than suede. While cleaning suede would require a brush, waterproofing spray, and a stain removal solution, you can clean leather with just a wet rag.

Is suede more durable than leather?

No, leather is much more durable than suede. If properly taken care of, leather products can often last a lifetime, while even high-quality suede items will only last a few years.

Is suede more expensive than leather?

No, leather is more expensive than suede. The process of making quality full-grain leather is much more complicated than the process of making suede, which results in increased costs.