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Any well dressed gent will know that the suede jacket is having something of a moment. They will also understand that with such a finely crafted material comes great responsibility for suede requires slightly more TLC than the rest of your outerwear.
So what exactly is suede? Well, quite simply, suede is leather that’s been turned inside out. The texture is often compared to that of velvet although nothing can quite compare to its soft napped surface, which is produced through a process of buffing, trimming and smoothing. Just like leather, suede comes in all manner of colours and while the natural tan continues to be the most common other tones such as navy prove popular.
When to wear it
One important factor many people overlook when discussing how to care for a suede jacket is the concept of when it should be worn. The arch nemesis of suede is, without question, water damage. This is when the soft velvety texture becomes hardened and has an almost polished surfaces that is quite the opposite of the beautiful patina of an aged leather.
For this reason, we advise you check the weather forecast before you leave the house to avoid exposing your suede jacket to any elements that could damage it. A drizzle of rain or a few flakes of snow will not spell the end of the world (we all know forecasters are renowned for getting it wrong every once in awhile) but a serious downpour could wreak havoc with your statement coat.
Suede is also a great insulator making it ideal when worn with a merino jumper in winter or with a t-shirt on nippy spring days and summer evenings. Just be mindful that suede is not as breathable as other natural materials such as wool or cotton and so it may not be the best choice if you worry you might overheat (no one wants to reveal sweat patches on a shirt when they take off their jacket).
Protecting your suede
Before you even slip on your suede jacket, give the piece a one over with a suede protector spray to help protect against the elements as well as any unexpected spillages. While formulas will vary, we suggest you spray over the whole surface of the suede upper from a distance of 15cm and leave to dry for 10 minutes. Ideally, use before first wear and then repeat every four weeks.
Caring for your suede
While we all try our best to be careful, it’s inevitable that your suede jacket will at some point be scuffed or marked in some way. For minor spot cleaning, rub a suede block on the stain in question before using a suede brush that combines rubber and brass bristles. Gently brush in the direction of the grain to prevent any damage (regularly brushing your jacket will ensure the suede stays soft). When removing mud, dirt or food, make sure the area marked has air dried first.
It may seem a no-brainer but at the end of a long day, place your suede jacket on a hanger and hang outside of your wardrobe for 24 hours. Alternate outerwear daily not just for aesthetic reasons but to also allow each piece to breathe and thus prolong its lifespan. As suede is quite a sensitive material, especially when it comes to climate, this is even more important. Sure, it’s hard to resist wearing your new jacket everyday at first but trust us it will pay off in the long run.
Cleaning your suede
For a more serious stain such as a spilt glass of wine or general wear your suede jacket will require an intensive clean. While some out there advocate cleaning suede at home using a domestic washing machine, we strongly advise against this. As with any piece in your wardrobe that you truly care about, we always recommend seeking the help of a professional.
Most dry cleaners worth their salt offer a suede and leather cleaning service and once you have found one you can trust you should take your outerwear to be cleaned once or twice a year depending on how often you wear each piece. It’s important not to become too reliant on such cleaning services by also looking after your animal hide jackets - too much wear, not enough care and frequent cleaning will cause further strain on your suede jacket.