What Is Suede Fabric?

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Suede comes in a range of colors.
Suede comes in a range of colors. (Image: PhotoObjects.net/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)

Suede fabric is elegant and chic, but is very sensitive to environmental damage and difficult to clean. Its signature soft feel sets it apart from other materials. For the same soft texture without the care hassles, synthetic suede gives you more options. Purchase suede fabric at a fabric store, or buy ready-made garments.

Material

Suede comes from the skin or hide of animals, as does leather. Where leather is the tanned hide of the animal, suede comes from the inner skin or split of the animal. To turn the skin into suede, manufacturers scrape the leather surface. This raises the soft nap that makes suede so distinctive. The finished product is suede or suede fabric.

Types

Suede fabric can be made into many types of garments. Suede jackets or vests are common, as are suede boots and shoes. Suede can be made into dresses, accessories such as purses, or other items. Suede hats come in a range of styles. All suede products have the soft nap, making it distinguishable from other materials by touch.

Synthetic

Synthetic suede fabric gives you the look and feel of suede without the animal factor. Synthetic suede can be polyester, polyester blend, or knit fabric. Where true suede gets difficult to clean and retains water damage, synthetic suede does not. Synthetic suede is wrinkle-resistant and can be machine washed and dried. Synthetic suede garments will list the material and washing instructions on the care label.

Care

True suede needs protection from the elements, because water damages it. Heat or oil also distort the look and feel of suede. To protect your suede fabric, keep it in a cool room and don't put it near a heat source such as a radiator. Coat your suede with a waterproofing spray to make it resistant to water damage, or wear your suede only on clear days when no rain is forecast. If true suede gets dirty, take it to the dry cleaners.

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