What’s the Difference Between Patent Leather and Suede Leather?

How do you tell the difference between patent leather and suede leather? It is a bit difficult, right? Well, I did some research on the topic and have written it down to share it with you.

So, What’s the Difference Between Patent Leather and Suede Leather? While Patent leather is a type of leather coated with lacquer, plastic, or varnish to make it have a high-gloss finish, suede is fuzzy leather made from the underside of an animal skin that has a napped finish.

Trying to tell by just looking is a sure way to actually tell the difference but might be slightly harder for a complete novice. So, what are the best ways to tell the difference between patent leather and suede leather? I will tell you several differences, ranging from their look to their feel.

Difference Between Patent Leather and Suede Leather

1. Difference Between Patent Leather and Suede leather By Look

At a glance, patent leather is very different from suede leather. Patent leather has a glass-like or mirror-like look while suede has nothing compared to a simple shine.

Patent leather comes in all colors and it is generally water-proof by nature, unlike suede. Suede leather looks rich in any situation but patent leather will look very cheap if worn incorrectly.

2. Difference Between Patent Leather and Suede leather By Feel

There is a slight difference between patent leather and suede when it comes to using our sense of touch or feel. Suede leather is sanded to produce a velvety soft feel. The sanding is done to the interior layer of the skin or hide.

Suede leather, unlike patent leather, is made from the inner split end of the hide or skins so it feels more softer and more porous.

Due to its soft feel, suede leather is often used in lining gloves and shoes while patent leather is commonly used for the exterior of bags, shoes or boots.

Comparatively, Patent leather with its glossy quality makes it more resistant to stains and scuffs than suede leather.

3. Difference Between Patent Leather and Suede leather By Toughness

Generally, leather has two sides, the grain side, and the flesh side. The grain side is the outer or exterior skin layer of the animal where the hair and fur of the animal grows. It is tough because it protects the animal’s skin.

Patent leather is made from this side, thus it is very tough. Flesh side forms part of the interior skin layer which is not as tough as an exterior skin layer.

Suede is made from the inside skin layer so suede leather is not as tough as patent leather which is made from the exterior layer.

This makes patent leather rough, and tougher than suede leather. A suede spray is applied to waterproof suede leathers to make it a bit tough than it actually is.

How is Patent Leather Made?

Patent leather is made from fine grain kid shin and can be manufactured synthetically as well. Original Patent leather is a very durable material and virtually waterproof and very flexible to work with.

Patent leather has continually become popular since its first mention in the British article the “Hands patent leather”. It has a phenomenal spread from Britain to the United States of America, New Jersey to be precise and all the way through Europe and beyond.

Every real leather is derived from animal skins or hides. They are called hides and skins when there are obtained as a by-product of the meat industry. The hides are used to qualify that which is gotten from larger animals like cattle.

Skins are used to qualify that which is on the contrary gotten from sheep, goats, and pigs. They is also the novelty leathers are derived from reptile skins and from birds like the ostrich.

Patent leather preparations start out as ordinary leather but the finishing has a bit of a twist to it. It is finished with chemicals like lacquer that give it a shiny, reflective surface. Patent leather often comes in black and is well known for makings shoes and dresses.

Watch this video on how Patent leather is finished

Is Patent Leather Durable?

Yes! The glossy-like mirror-like finish on Patent leather makes is impervious to water. It durable because the glassy finish serves as a protective layer.

Patent leather is widely preferred, however, in recent times, patent leather quality standards has fallen quite a bit compared to earlier patent leathers. Recently, the majority of the patent leather you will find in stores have coatings of plastic making it more prone to scuffs.

It is important to note where you buy your patent leathers and the kind of reputation they have with selling patent leathers.

How to Care and Maintain Patent Leather

  1. Use a damp cloth and carefully wipe away dust or debris
  2. Use a patent leather cleaner and apply a thick layer to your entire surface
  3. Alloy to dry
  4. Buff to clean all the dried cleanser off turning it into a high gloss shine

Patent Leather age well and good especially the dark-colored ones. Products made of black patent leathers age better as blemishes may not be seen too well and is easy to wipe off with a good product.

Light-colored patent leather products can be subject to color transfer from dark-colored fabrics or materials. Also, Most whitish patent leathers sometimes may become yellowish which can be very unbearable.

How is Suede Leather Made?

It might interest you to know that suede has its origin for the French word “gants de Suede” meaning gloves from Sweden.

So, how is suede made? To make suede, the underside of the animal’s skin is split to separate from the top creating a softer leather. Suede can be made from any kind of animal skin or hide.

There are different types of Suede leather:

  • Cowhide suede
  • Sheepskin suede
  • Pigskin suede

Suede leather due to its softness and thinness, it is perfect for footwear, jackets, gloves, handbags, belts and many more.

How does Suede Leather Age?

Suede leather will serve you well aging gracefully. Considering you bought a normal standard suede leather, they age with a little bit of the usual creases and lightening of color.


In addition to what has been discussed in this article, some of the differences between the patent leather and suede is deep-seated in the leathers.

I hope this article finds you well giving you the information you need on the difference between patent leather and suede leather. Welcome to explore other interesting articles on this website.


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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