Lighter and softer, but just as breathable as smooth leather, suede is one of our favorite materials for spring days when the air hasn’t completely lost its chill but we’re ready to say “goodbye”—at least for now—to our heavier winter wear. But despite its rich color, textured hand, and incredible versatility, suede still has an undeserved reputation for being hard to care for (that “Seinfeld” episode didn’t help). Here, we’ll take you through everything you need to know about caring for suede, and why it deserves a top spot in your spring lineup.
First, what is it?
Without getting too technical about it, the easiest way to think about suede is that if your leather Cafe Racer or Classic Moto Jacket is made from the outside of the hide, suede is made from the underside. That luxuriously fuzzy nap is actually tiny raised hairs, which bring us to how to care for suede.
Grab a brush.
Although not just any brush, a medium bristle brush made with natural fibers or silicone (although a toothbrush will do in a pinch). That velvety nap feels, and looks, inviting but it also invites dust and dirt. Rather than head to your dry cleaner, just brush gently in the direction of the nap to remove any debris. In fact, unless your suede is visibly stained, don’t bring it to the dry cleaner at all, as it could alter the texture. Just like smooth leather, suede gets better with wear, so you’ll want to show off those little marks that make it yours.
You don’t need to baby suede just because of a few clouds in the forecast. At the beginning of the season give your suede a light coating—from a foot or so away, being sure not to soak—with a silicone-free weather protector spray, which will also ward off stains. (You want to stay away from silicone because just like smooth leather, suede needs to breath, and silicone leaves an invisible barrier behind.) If you do run into a downpour, blot any excess water off with a clean cloth and let your suede dry naturally, away from any heat source.
Hang it up.
Storing suede is as easy as putting away any of your finer pieces: a wooden hanger with a well-formed shoulder is preferred, to prevent the material from stretching, and always use a natural fiber garment bag, never plastic, which can trap moisture and prevent air flow.
Whether you’re looking to elevate your workwear with the Savoy Suede Workshirt, or want to invest in a Suede Bomber with heirloom details, like antique brass zippers, a rugged suede piece is how you can easily add some serious style to your spring.