Suede vs Nubuck: 8 Differences Between Suede and Nubuck

Leather is a durable fabric that can last you a very long time. Yet some parts of leather are gentle, delicate, and vulnerable. With the wrong care, these weaker materials do not last that long. But both are still expensive when you want to buy one or the other.

Both materials are real leather and come from the hides of different animals. The main difference between the two is that Nubuck is taken from the exterior of the hide while suede is taken from the interior. Their processing is a little different as well.

To learn more about the differences between these two leather materials just continue to read our article. It has the story on both so you know the difference. That knowledge will help you take care of each fabric correctly

What Are Suede And Nubuck?

1. Suede

This material is split from the outer hide in a careful process and then it is sanded down to be even better. The material comes from the underside of the hide that contacts the flesh of the animal.

The sanding process raises the nap while making the fabric smooth and soft, plus, it is also very pliable and supple. The sanding takes longer than it does to do on Nubuck

2. Nubuck

Another name for this leather material is top grain. It is created by also rubbing sand across the exterior of the hide to make the nap higher as well as creating a soft smooth surface. The sanding will remove any defects and visible marks.

Staining or dyeing is also done to hide those defects and marks. The difference here is that the sanding process is shorter than the one used on suede.

Difference Between Suede And Nubuck

Despite being taken from the same part of the animal, there are differences between the two fabrics. Here is a quick comparison chart to help you see those differences quickly:

Category Suede Nubuck
Origin Cows, sheep, deer, and other animals The same for this material but mostly it is from cowhide
Application Shoes, jackets,coats, wallets and more Mostly shoes and other products
Texture Soft, pliable, delicate Tough, rough and strong
Source The interior part of the hide split from the exterior The exterior part of the hide
Weight Usually thin & lightweight Usually thick and heavyweight
Durability Not that durable Lasts longer than suede
Cleaning Needs special leather care Needs special leather care
Cost Can be expensive Sometimes more expensive than suede

What Does Nubuck Leather Look Like?


One characteristic that comes with Nubuck is that it does not develop the patina that other leather and suede materials do. This means that this style of leather does not develop that character you like to see in most leather products.

Once the sanding is over, this material can look a bit like suede which confuses people when they look at both materials at the same time. Nubuck is just tougher and more durable so it lasts a lot longer and may develop scuffs and other marks. Those defects come from the rougher treatment it endures.

The type of hide Nubuck is made from will determine its look. It was made originally from buckskin or deer and elk hide but lately, it is made from calfskin which makes it a very soft material although very tough.

How Can You Tell The Difference Between Nubuck And Suede?

One difference between the two fabrics is that Nubuck tends to be thicker than suede. This is an important difference as the thinner the material, the less durability and strength it will have.

Also, Nubuck is less porous than suede meaning that it needs less maintenance. That is a feature you can only experience and not see on the store shelves. Then Nubuck has a more velvet-like texture when you run your hand across it.

Suede has a lighter texture and fees more like leather. But this is all open to debate as people will disagree on how Nubuck and suede feel. Most of the time it is very hard to tell the difference between the two fabrics.

While suede gets made into shoes, it is more likely found in gloves, jackets, and other accessories. Nubuck is also made into different leather accessories but it is more often found in shoes.

Is Suede or Nubuck Better?

In this case most likely for durability and rough treatment, Nubuck is better than suede. This material can handle rougher treatment and take more knocks than suede can.

But in the texture and looks department suede may come out on top as it is a soft material and while Nubuck can be soft it may not be as soft as suede. The look of suede also is an improvement over Nubuck and suede can be dyed so it is possible to change the color.

If you want a material that will last and does not the gentle care that suede does, then you would want to go with Nubuck as it is a little better than suede is. If you are trying to make a fashion statement or just look good, then suede is better for that purpose.

Your pocketbook may also have a say in determining which is better as cheaper is not always a bad thing.

Is Nubuck More Expensive Than Suede?


Generally, Nubuck is more expensive than suede. The reason for this is because the former material is taken from the outside of the hide and is a lot tougher than suede will ever be. One has to keep in mind that softness does not always equate with weakness.

Soft materials can be tough as well. It is just normally they are not as tough as harder materials. Harder materials can be very fragile, like glass or some plastics. But with that said, Nubuck can also be found at cheaper prices than suede.

It will all depend on how the materials were manufactured, their quality as well as the sanding process, if it was good or not. The key to finding good Nubuck clothing and accessories is to find out how they were made first. You may pay more for quality but it is worth it in the long run.

Difference Between Suede And Leather

Leather is taken from the same part of the hide that Nubuck is taken. That may cause a little confusion and have people thinking that leather and Nubuck are the same. But Nubuck is processed like suede is with sanding which makes it different from leather even though both it and suede are leather.

Suede is sanded as well but usually for a longer time frame than Nubuck. Leather on the other hand goes through a tanning process. Leather also has all the fur removed from its hides so it is not as soft as suede will be.

While both materials are made into various clothing items and accessories, you will find leather easier to care for and more durable than suede. Suede can stain very easily while leather usually does not.

Also, suede will be much softer than leather and probably more pliable as well.

Nubuck vs Leather Durability

One of the main reasons Nubuck is seen as more durable than leather is because it is taken from a different part of the hide than leather is. Both bonded and bi-cast leather don't use the top grain of the hide while Nubuck does.

This difference makes the latter material a lot stronger and more durable. Full-grain leather should be tougher and more durable than Nubuck. Then full grain leather does not have any defects to it thus keeping the integrity intact.

Nubuck materials come with defects and the sanding process may weaken the integrity of the fabric and making it less strong as full-grain leather. Then with so many different types of tanned leather, it is hard to say which is the most durable.

One version will not last as long as the Nubuck style of leather, while others will last longer.

Nubuck vs Suede Jacket


This is not a difficult choice as it will boil down to how you look compared to how long will the jacket last. If you want to make a good fashion statement then you should go with the suede jacket. It looks good, comes in many colors, and drapes fairly well.

But if you want long-lasting, then you should go with the Nubuck jacket. One reason for that is that the Nubuck material is thicker than suede and will stand up to more use than suede will.

Suede will also stain easier than Nubuck jackets and while you can waterproof both materials there is always an element of risk when it comes to the different possible staining materials.

When it comes to softness, this may be hard to decide as both materials can be very soft to the touch. Sometimes Nubuck is confused with suede and the retailer may not know the difference.

Leather vs Suede Shoes

Suede will make your feet look great. But to have them looking their best, you have to pay out a lot of money for suede footwear and that may not always be doable. The other factor in going with leather over suede is that the latter material is very difficult to care for.

All leather shoes need is a little polishing, a little restoring, and a little waterproofing protection. Taking care of leather shoes and boots is as simple as putting shoe polish on regular shoes.

On the other hand, suede takes a lot of care as it attracts dirt and grime if one is not careful. Also, suede needs brushing to get the dirt and stain out, and getting stains out is tricky if they are deeper than the surface.

Gun eraser and brushing need to be used to protect the nap and you do not want to brush the wrong way or erase against the nap. Then you have to do this cleaning regularly and keep applying waterproofing each time you clean the shoes.

Leather is better as it will hold up to more wear and tear than suede will.

Are Uggs Suede or Nubuck?

Uggs usually come made with sheepskin lining and a suede exterior. This style brings a lot of comfort to your feet. Because they are made with these materials, you have to waterproof them before you wear them outside.

Uggs makes its own waterproofing material as well so you may want to buy a bottle or two of that product to make sure you are using the right stuff on your Uggs shoes. If you do not have the money for that option, you will find other good cheaper options on Amazon.

The one thing you should know about Uggs is that they are not made for extreme weather conditions. You do not want to walk through heavy snowstorms or lots of slush with these shoes on. The waterproofing only holds up so far then you are left with a soggy mess.

Better go with rubber boots than ruin those expensive shoes

Are Vans Suede or Nubuck?


This brand of shoes seems to be taking no chances. They are making shoes out of both materials to keep their market options open. Since Nubuck can be as soft if not softer than suede it is a good business decision.

Also, what makes this decision even better is that Nubuck made shoes are tougher and more durable than suede. Your shoes should last you longer when made from this material. This helps you save a little money when you do a lot of walking around the office or your city.

There is room in your closet for Van’s suede shoes as those will look great when you go on a nice romantic date or to a formal evening event that demands you look your best. It is good that Van’s offers a choice as you can shop for all your shoes at one location and save time.

Are Timberlands Suede or Nubuck?

This brand of shoes seems to consider that Nubuck and suede are the same. But they talk about cleaning Nubuck leather, they put suede in brackets as if they think the two types of leather are equal.

But as you know they are not equal. Most of Timberland’s shoes are made from Nubuck or premium leather materials. They are just tougher than suede and you are not losing out on anything by not having a suede Timberland shoe.

You get excellent quality, top craftsmanship as well as good looks, and a soft exterior. Nubucks are easier to care for than suede so you are saving yourself a cleaning headache by bypassing buying suede shoes.

Are Sperrys Suede or Nubuck?

This company is like Van’s. It prefers to make shoes in both fabrics giving you a choice of style, good looks as well as quality and durability. It will be up to you which material you choose to buy your shoes in and at Sperry’s you have a good selection.

Then the company offers you tips on how to keep your new Sperry suede and Nubuck shoes clean. A little help is always appreciated especially when it comes to caring for suede materials.

The cost of these shoes may be a bit on the high side but at least you know your feet will be comfortable, well-taken care of, and looking good all at the same time. Shopping at Sperry’s will also save you on time as you can buy both types of shoes at one stop.

Are Jordans Suede or Nubuck?


This brand of shoes originated from Nike. They created a separate company and it has become one of the more profitable companies around. It helps to use the name Jordan in your company. If there is a different Jordan shoe company, we did not find it.

To answer the question, suede is used sometimes. We say sometimes as the company focuses more on making basketball shoes and the materials that go into those shoes range from leather to kevlar, to plastic compounds.

When the shoes are made of suede, sometimes Nike adds a surcharge or limits their distribution so you may not be able to find one in your local shoe stores. There are ways to tell if the shoes are genuine or fake. Just click here to get those pointers.

Some Final Words

When it comes to leather, you have lots of options. Suede materials are nice and they are good to look at but they are hard to care for. Nubuck materials are also nice to look at but they are easier to care for and hold up better than suede items.

Go with the ones you like the most and can afford. Nubuck is usually more expensive than suede for many reasons.

Leave a Comment: