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What is Goat Suede?

By Diana Marie Jones
Updated May 16, 2024
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Goat suede is subcategory of suede which is itself a subcategory of leather. Goat refers to the type of animal skin used, while suede refers to a specific treatment used to achieve a soft nap on the leather. Whereas full-grain leather is made from the outer side of an animal skin, that which the fur was attached to, suede leather uses the inner side. The inner side is more supple to begin with but is further softened and made flexible by buffing its surface to create the slightly fuzzy texture of suede. Some skins may also be split, the inner side of the leather from the outer side, leaving very flexible and soft suede.

While softer and often considered more comfortable than full-grain leathers, suede is less durable and requires more upkeep. A stiff brush, with soft bristles, should be used regularly to loosen and brush away dirt that may be attracted to the suede’s surface. Water can badly stain suede, so a waterproofing spray should be applied directly after brushing at least once a year and more frequently if the suede item is used constantly. Note that any waterproofing spray should be tested in an inconspicuous spot for discoloration.

Should water damage the suede, there are some methods of recovery. For shoes, cloth, dampened slightly with water or vinegar may be rubbed across the surface of the suede to smooth out spots of discoloration. Shoes should be stuffed for shaping and to prevent shrinking if they become very wet and similarly garments such as jackets should be laid out to dry and stretched occasionally if they become wet. There are commercial suede cleaners, but once again, they should be tested for discoloration in a hidden. Perhaps the best way to recover damaged suede is to take it to a professional leather shop. While pricier, it may achieve the best results and prolong the life of the suede.

Goat suede, like most leathers, is expensive. The quality of the goat suede, based on the health of the skin when harvested, marks present from fences or other obtrusions, will directly affect the price of the goat suede. However, if purchasing goat suede or any other type, it is wise to spend a little more for a higher quality item. Cheaper suede is usually made from split skins, meaning they are very delicate and likely to rip or tear within a couple of years. If looking for the appearance and feel of suede without the price, there are many alternative options on the market made from fabrics with naps or textures similar to suede. Along with a smaller price tag they offer less upkeep. It may be worth investing in one good goat suede item, relishing it, and buying other accessories in alternative fabrics.

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