5 Reasons Why Suede Is Less Expensive Than Leather?

Whether you’re a first-time buyer or a regular shopper considering choosing between suede or a leather product and amongst other things you have price as a focal point, then your at the right place. In this article I delve into a couple of reasons why suede leather isn’t expensive than leather.

So first and foremost, is Suede really more expensive than leather? No. While it will depend on the type brand of product, suede is generally less expensive than leather. Why? because low quality hides are often processed for suede while the very best hides are selected for leather.

In addition to the basic reason highlighted above being a major reason why any suede item will be less expensive than leather, there are a couple more reasons I have researched as to why this is so. Stick around to find out more!

Before you jump on, you can check out an article I wrote earlier about the differences between suede and leather. This will give you a nice understanding of the two types of leather materials.

Reasons Why Suede Leather is Less Expensive than Leather

While suede and leather are both leather, there are a couple of things that influence and causes a price difference between the two.

Parts of The Hides Used For Suede

There are different parts of hides used for leather and suede. These parts in their order of quality are the butt, bend, shoulder, head, and side respectively. Although these parts are basically different parts of the same animal, it will not be the same quality in terms of look and structure.

All hides will have imperfections and the imperfections will be a reflection of the lifestyle of the animal from which the hide was harvested from.

If the animal had a lot of insect bits, wondered around a lot in think bushes, live in a 3rd world country, or was quite old and wrinkly, then all these will show forth on the kind of hides you’re going to get.

While these imperfections can be random, there are certain portions of the hide that get the most affected. Parts like the butt, bend, shoulder, and head will be your best bet if you want very clean hides with little imperfections, while the side will most of the time be the badly affected part.

During the leather making process, parts like the butt or bend will be selected and finished as leather, while parts like the side, may be split and buffed to remove all imperfections and then used for suede.

So now the issue becomes a numbers game where the butt and bend potions are a small fraction of the total hide causing leathers made from those parts to be more expensive than the side section which are low quality, in abundance, and less expensive when used for suede.

I must add that, you can find some premium brands ensuring the best parts of the hides are used for their suede, but hey, why strip off or buff a perfect grain layer? It’s a rear and unlikely this will be done!

Suede Has Low Tensile Strength

Leather in its raw form (not buffed or split on the grain side) with its grain layer with imperfections and all retains the natural tensile strength that comes with leather — making leather tear and puncture resistant.

Suede comes from the thin inner splits of the animal skins and in an attempt to make suede, the grain layer is lost because of all the splitting and buffing to get the nap look and feel suede has. This then messes up the durability and share strength of the hide when used for suede.

Suede Requires A Lot of Tender Loving Care

Leather will come with a very sophisticated and refined look that’s also highly durable. At this point, you will understand when I say leather.is.durable! Yes, extremely durable but will come with a heftier price tag. Although leather is a lot more expensive than suede it’s very easy to take care of.

All it will take is for you to air out your leather jacket or boots after wearing it and from time to time conditioning so it doesn’t completely become dry.

Leather is ragged and you will not have to worry too much because it will come pretreated so when it comes into contact with water spills or dust and the like, it’s not going to be an issue.

Same cannot be said for suede as suede is more susceptible to damage. While suede will be substantially affordable it comes with its caveats. With suede’s tensile strength greatly diminished, it leaves the user a great deal of work to ensure the suede leather item lasts quite a while.

You can check out this video on how to care for suede.

Suede Has No Water Resistance

Suede because of its texture, look, and feel is pretty awesome. But this seeming advantage is also a big disadvantage because all that nap Suede comes with also makes it very susceptible to water stains — meaning it will not fair well with water.

The slightest water the gets onto suede go into its fibers and cause severe damage its softness unlike leather which is more water resistant. Yes leather it not totally waterproof, but will fair way better than suede.

While it can be a bit of a pain having to constantly apply a protective layer to suede items before use so they don’t get ruined when you get caught up in a rain, snow, or spills from the salad dressing you’re enjoying at your favorite cousins dinner party.

But luckily, suede protectors like this one from Bickmore on Amazon will offer a longer protection for your suedes. There are other great products and treatments you can give to suede items at home to improve its water resistance.

Here’s a video on how to improve the water and spill resistance of your suede items.

Suede is Porous

Unlike leather, Suede is super porous so dirt and other forms of liquids can get trapped easily into its fibers . If not regularly brushed or cleaned, the dirt and liquid will eventually ruin its beautiful nap which can mar the smooth appearance of the suede item.


Hi! I’m Kwabena, the owner and founder of Favored Leather. I’m a huge Leathercraft enthusiast and I’ve been that for almost 13 years now. I'm excited to share my experiences and all the new stuff I learn each day about leather craft, leather cleaning & care, and everything in-between!

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