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Justin, "The Shoe Snob"

Monday, April 19, 2010

Suede Shoes - The Big Misconception

Why is it that so many men are afraid to buy suede shoes for fear of ruining them? Suede is just like any other leather. If you treat it well, it will last a long time, if you don't maintain it, it will get ruined!! But it's not guaranteed that if you live in a rainy place you are automatically going to ruin your suede shoes, as one might think. You would just as easily ruin a pair of regular leather shoes as you would a pair of suede shoes. Obviously it also helps to know what kind of suede you are buying, the better the grade, the easier to maintain. You always want to protect any shoes you purchase by getting the corresponding products to maintain them. There are a number of different types of spray and cream protectors that are essential, obviously the spray one's for the suede and cream one's for your regular leather. There are also brushes that help clean and maintain the integrity of the suede that are useful for when you do happen to spill, or get a rain spot, on your suede shoes.

Left Shoes: Gaziano & Girling, photo courtesy of: Leffot
Right Shoes: Koji Suzuki
Below (light suede derby's): Stefano Bemer

It's funny that there is such a big fear of suede when in fact, a dark brown or black suede shoe is one of the easiest types of shoe to maintain. You could easily spill something on them and it be hidden. In fact I have spilled red wine on my suede boots several times and it never left a mark after it dried. I also know a gentlemen who lives in Seattle and only wears suede shoes. Considering he wears a suit to work everyday, he is thus wearing suede shoes everyday and if you know anything about Seattle, you know that it rains a lot there. His shoes, however, seem to keep their integrity, apparently because he knows how to treat them. So for all of you that have wanted to purchase a pair of suede shoes but didn't for fear of easily ruining them, get the fear out of your head and go get yourself a pair along with the spray's and brushes to maintain them. Now I do have to say that a light colored suede is something a little more sensitive to dust, dirt and water but all in all if you watch where you step and avoid wearing them on days with heavy rain then the leather's integrity will still last quite awhile.

Left Shoe: Saion
Right Shoe: Unknown

It's a shame that there is this misconception of suede because it is such a nice substitute in regards to always wearing calf skin shoes. Something about suede gives it an appeal that really adds to the intelligence of an outfit. It's casual elegance can create a balance in an outfit that would have otherwise been too dressy or too casual or simply too much. It is hard to explain but the allure of suede shoes is profound and the fact that suede is also so versatile only adds to it's appeal and the intelligence of pairing it with a smart outfit. Below are some examples of how to wear suede shoes with a suit or in a 'dressier way.'

Photos Above: Courtesy of The Sartorialist

Suede also is a great alternative (and is far more common) in the casual shoe world. What I also like about suede in casual shoes is the fact that when making a shoe in a bright or unique color, using suede as the leather type can take it a notch down, thus giving the appearance of it being slightly less in-your-face as opposed to a regular leather that would be more shiny and only enhance the bright color. Examples below.

Left Shoes (Top, Bottom): Both by Opening Ceremony
Right Shoes (Top, Bottom): Generic Surplus, Dsquared


  1. Suede is really intimidating but these are great tips, thanks for the post!

  2. great post, again!

  3. too bad that most of people are afraid of suede,myself,love them!!

  4. really a nice post and the style of the blogger to introduce the new pair of the shoes is really stylish and more attractive.

  5. Hello!

    How do you protect your suede (any good products to recommend?)

    Thanks for the great post!

  6. Unknown - You can protect it with a suede spray, but most importantly by simply being aware...of rainy days, of spilling things on them (like liquids) etc.


  7. Justin, do you prefer the wire brush or the kind of "rubbery" brush (e.g., for maintaining suede? What do you use on a regular basis?

  8. Jason - I use a brush that has both sides actually. The wire bristles to clean off dirt, and the rubber bit to smooth out the hairs of the suede....


  9. Justin, I know one of your blogs says Jordan's are a don't. But I recently bought a pair of Jordan spizikes. These have the "elephant print" on the toe and heel, is there a good way to protect that type of material?

    1. sorry my friend, but I have never once dealt with elephant in the sense that I never had to clean it, so i am afraid to say that this is beyond my knowledge, as I don't know how it will react to common shoe products....sorry



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