Nubuck vs Suede: What You Need To Know

Which one would you get if you had to choose, nubuck vs suede? When it comes to shoes, I’m the last person you’d want to go shopping with. Probably because i’m very choosy when it comes to footwear. I always have a checklist with me. So if a shoe does not meet those standards, it’s adios from me.

If you know you’re a fan of durable shoes. Then suede or nubuck must be in your list right? Most people don’t actually understand the difference and you’d be surprised at the number of people out there who confuse the two. 

Today I’m going to be working towards helping those people by differentiating the two. You want to know which one is better? Then read the time you finish i’m certain you’ll know which one is better and which one you’d prefer on your shoes. 


Well when you look at nubuck you’d think it’s suede. So I can understand where the confusion comes in. Then again, Nubuck, unlike suede, is made from the outside of a hide. It’s not as furry or as fuzzy as suede. 

The fact that it’s made outside of a hide makes it more durable because of the long-lasting material. It can also withstand more scuffing than your average suede. If you check the history of how Nubuck came into making you realise it was mostly buckskin. 

 As of late they have been using calfskin so you’ll find it to be rather soft. Since it’s made from the outer hide, nubuck can come with imperfections. Some people actually say that the imperfections give the material some character. I won’t argue, that’s very true.

You should know that Nubuck is quite expensive. The whole sanding to make it softer than leather really does add some value to it. At the same time it gives it some really nice texture and a nice look that is quite admirable. 


Suede is a whole new level. It’s made from the underside of the animal’s skin. It is soft, more delicate and light as well as pliable. The name alone comes from the French phrase ‘gants de Suede’. The material is very delicate and makes really great pairs of shoes. 

The material of the skin is more delicate as compared to leather and nubuck. You can find it used on things like gloves. It is made by sanding down the underside of the animal skin. This means that it is thinner and more supple. 

It is more prone to things like water damage and excessive heat may make it less stunning. So if your shoe does not have a protective coating then nite that even the slightest drop of water could cause some permanent staining. 

Though sensitive suede isn’t a weak shoe material. Look at waxed suede. It has a protective feature that almost makes it seem waterproof. Not saying you can jump around in puddles of water with it, but it offers some great protection to your shoe. 

Favourite Features

One of the reasons why I love both suede and nubuck is the fact that they are both softer than traditional smooth leathers. They make some pretty cozy and stylish shoes plus you don’t have to worry about any creases in the top of your shoe. 

The fuzzy look on both these is worth the style. It’s due to the sanding that they have to go through. The sanding process removes the top layer material so that can explain the look. I mean how could you not love these two leathers. 

You will find that nubuck and suede have a similar look. That’s why I was saying that some people might actually confuse the two. Since they are both sanded they have this signature texture. This fizzy and warm look. Let’s look at some of the differences between the two. 

Price tags

Well surely you’d think both are at the same level. But no, nubuck is way more expensive. Reason behind this is I’m not really sure, but I’d say it’s probably because it’s more durable as compared to suede. Nubuck can resist things water and stains aren’t as visible unlike with suede. 

Suede on the other other hand is not the cheapest material out there. Then again as compared to Nubucks and Leather it is relatively cheap. Probably because it is softer and fuzzier than nubucks. So you will find that suede is more prone to staining. 


When it comes to texture. Both leathers are soft and fuzzy and they have this velvet touch finish. However, nubuck is harder and thicker or should i use the term tougher that suede. Suede is soft and pliable but nubucks is less fuzzy and not as pliable as suede. 

Suede is flexible so I can say. You find it mostly on heeled shoes and loafers. Nubucks is more likely to be used on tougher shoes like Timberlands and at times safety shoes. It’s thicker and denser and doesn’t have as much fuzz as the other  shoes. 


When it comes to maintaining the two. One requires more special care than the other. Nubucks is closer to leather. It doesn’t really need you to be extra sensitive with it. Some polishing will do. A few drops of water can be wiped off and the likes. 

Suede on the other hand is quite fragile. Just a few water droplets and already it is stained. It requires frequent polishing and you have to be sure that you don’t spoil the shoe. Cleaning it is also another war room you don’t want to enter.  

What could be better


In my own experience I have to say nubick is way easier to deal with. It does require special care like a baby would. The material is easy to handle and is very stylish. Then again it is quite expensive but i have to say i would still buy that expensive shoe. 


Suede is quite similar to Nubuck. However, it is quite annoying that you have to be extra careful with the material. Water and regular liquids are a no no because they will stain really bad. Then again the material is quite affordable but unless you’re ready to be very careful with your shoes, I wouldn’t suggest it

The verdict

If you are working with a low budget. Then suede should be your go-to. The material is durable and pliable. It makes for great and stylish shoes. However, if your goal is style and density and you can afford a higher budget, Nubuck should be your go-to at all cost, at least in my opinion. 

Hi there. This is Clare. Dave and I manage this site. We are outdoor enthusiasts. Most of the content is about products that we love using or have researched.
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