What is mcl leather

What is suede? Real leather vs. synthetic leather

Whether fashionista, designer or shopaholic, we all know suede - but what is suede and what is the difference to normal leather? In general, suede is the umbrella term for all types of leather with a specific finish. Instead of a material, the name only refers to the roughened and thus soft surface.

How is suede made?

Real leather is made from animal hides that have been dried and tanned through various processes. Natural suede is found on the inside of animal hides, visible on the underside of tanned leather. However, designers rarely use this underside as a basis for velor. The reason for this is that the material is often too thick and relatively strong, a property that is ascribed to smooth leather but not preferred for suede.

In order to produce soft suede with a flowing drape, the animal skins are processed in a different way. After intermediate drying, the top is roughened with sandpaper. The result is a thinner material that has exactly the same velvety surface as the underside of smooth nappa leather, but is much easier to work with.

What is velor made of?

Suede is therefore tanned leather that has been sanded off. But which leather is used to make suede? Since the surface is sanded down, the material can be made from almost any animal skin: Most often, velor consists of lamb, goat, deer, calf and even pork. The species and age of the animal play an important role as they affect the appearance of the end product. For example, suede from cows or deer that are older is a bit thicker and rougher to the touch than leather from young goats or calves.

What is velor used for?

The material is not nearly as robust as leather and therefore not suitable for upholstered furniture or outdoor clothing. What is velor then used for? The soft and light material is ideal for luxurious clothing and high-quality accessories such as handbags, shoes and more. Velor is also popular as an inner lining for more robust leather goods. One of the best-known items of clothing made of suede are definitely the fringed jackets from the Wild West. And of course Elvis Presley's Blue Suede Shoes - shoes made of blue suede.

What is suede: where does it come from?

Thanks to archaeological finds such as the glacier mummy Ötzi, it is known that leather and fur goods have been made into clothing since the Neolithic Age. Ötzi himself wore a hat, a coat and even shoes made of various leathers and furs.
At the time of the Industrial Revolution, the way leather was processed changed, as newly discovered chemicals made tanning easier and faster production.

In the 20th century, suede became the symbol of the beautiful and the rich due to its thin, soft and fine structure. More and more fashion designers are also choosing the soft material for their creations and well-known fashion houses such as Prada, Givenchy and Hermes use velor in a number of collections. Many designers work directly with tanneries to create leather just the way they want it.

The word Velours comes from French and means "velvet" when translated. The reason for this is easy to guess: the soft surface of suede is reminiscent of velvet. Also called suede, velor is often used as a generic term for all types of leather with a rough surface.

Suede Vs Faux Suede

Faux suede is incredibly often preferred. The material, also known as suedette, offers a whole range of advantages compared to real suede. The animal-friendly alternative has a similar smooth surface without hardening or fraying over time. Cleaning is also often easier: Genuine suede is very sensitive, especially to water. Faux Suede, on the other hand, has water-repellent properties, so it can be washed or wiped off easily and safely. The tightly woven structure of the material often prevents stains from appearing in the first place - so you don't have to clean the material as often. It's also a lot cheaper, of course.

Types of real suede

There are many different types of leather and suede, depending on the type of hide used to make them.


Mainly made from the skins of lambs as they are lighter and softer. With a velvety pile and light weight, this version is the finest available on the market. Although suede is not waterproof, sheepskin suede is perfect for keeping the cold, wind and moisture away during the winter months.


Pigskin is less common than sheepskin because it is firmer and less soft. Pigskin suede has a relatively short pile and is durable due to its firm structure. Because sturdy material is particularly popular for making shoes.


As with sheep leather, cow leather is often made from the hides of calves because they are softer. The pile is rougher and shorter than sheep and pig suede and is therefore less frequently available. However, incredibly robust items can be made from the material.

advantages and disadvantages

Like any fabric, real suede has advantages and disadvantages. Here is an overview of the most important points:


  • Thick suede is very robust
  • Smooth and luxurious
  • Roughened surface
  • Durable


  • Not waterproof
  • Can absorb dirt
  • Not very durable
  • High price