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Suede shoes: how to choose, wear and clean them

From the ’30s to today suede shoes have always been a must beyond any fashion and trend. Here’s how to choose and to take care of them.

Suede Shoes: always trendy

“And don’t you step on my blue suede shoes. You can do anything, but stay off my blue suede shoes”. It is September 1956 when Elvis recorded a cover of “Blue suede shoes”, the song written the year before by Carl Perkins.

It is a sign of the fashion of the time: the 50s are the decade of rock ‘n’ roll, blue jeans, t-shirt, pin up and polka dot pattern. The first bikini begins to appear and the leather jacket becomes an indispensable must-have for man’s fashion. Also footwear becomes lighter and more comfortable: suede shoes are among the protagonists of this “rebirth”. Rebirth of fashion, customs and society.

Suede: what does it really mean?

What are suede shoes? Here a clarification: chamois leather and suede are not the same thing. In the first case we speak of real suede leather and suede is a type of animal skin (usually bovine or ovine origin) that is deprived of the most valuable and superficial part, the flower, and then tanned, dyed and worked with sandpapering machine on the flesh side.

It presents itself to the touch with a velvety appearance (this is also called “velour”, the French word meaning “velvet” or suede from “gants de Suède”, which literally can be translated as “gloves from Sweden” ).

The main features of suede shoes can be summarized as follows:
– they are very light and therefore particularly suitable for summer outfits; this lightness is due mainly to the low specific weight of the suede that is established during processing;
– the particular type of tanning which undergoes skin gives the natural color typical of suede that has made over time its fortune;
– they have an amazing ability to absorb water and be able to return to normal as soon as they are dried;
– they have an extraordinary resistance to the “use stress”.

Suede: what is not …

There is often a lot of confusion about the term “suede”. We try to clarify:

1) There are some synthetic materials, including Alcantara, who are treated with products that make them soft and velvety. In this case, however, we speak of a different article from suede, more resistant to wear, stains and liquids;

2) Suede is different from buckskin cloths: the latter is obtained from sheep or goat skins submitted to tanning with marine oils. It is a very resistant material, soft and elastic. For this reason is often employed to create gloves, packaging for the cleaning of lenses and cloths for washing the car;

3) Suede and nubuck are not the same: the latter is the most valuable, because it is obtained by grinding the most prized skin side (the so-called “flower”); for this reason it is more durable, but less soft than skins that preserve the flower.

How to clean suede shoes

One of the biggest dilemmas when you own a pair of suede shoes is how to clean them. These require a constant “maintenance” that allows to keep the skin intact for a long time.

For their daily care you can use a special brush for suede shoes each time they are worn. This brush allows to eliminate the excess powder and keep alive the skin. Other specific cleaning product is the Camoscina, a spray reviving readily available.

Our Shoecare kit for suede

There are also a number of DIY methods to care of the shoes and to preserve the beauty of the skin intact. Systems are various according to the type of cleaning that is necessary to do.

Stains – In order to remove stains from suede shoes, for example, you can rub the stain with a wet cotton with milk. Another dry method is instead to erase with an eraser for suede or with white bread crumbs. If this does not get the desired results, you may opt for a more “aggressive” technique which consists in rubbing the stained area with a cloth soaked in a solution of water, dishwashing liquid and ethyl alcohol (the latter in very small quantities).
It should then rinse and let dry the suede shoes away from heat sources, with the heel on the ground and the raised tip, in order to avoid the formation of white streaks on the upper. Once dry, it is useful to review them with a cloth moistened with milk, to remove the dryness of the washing and brighten the skin.

Water – Have you ever been wet in the middle of a storm and were your suede shoes damaged? The only solution is to leave the shoe dry and then brush it, perhaps using the Camoscina to make the skin look smoother.

Greasy – The cleaning of grease stains from suede shoes is done putting on the soiled part some talcum powder or baking soda: once the stain has dried, use the bush to remove the dust formed.

Organic stains – The foods or liquids can be wiped off with a wet cotton lightly with white vinegar.

Ink – The first thing to do is to try to clear it with a flap for nails or a piece of sandpaper trying to be very delicate.

Glue – Generally you can eliminate it using warm water or creating a solution with Marseilles soap and a few drops of alcohol or nail polish remover.

Bad smells – You can make them vanish just passing inside the shoe a cloth moistened with water and vinegar or with baking soda.

Suede shoes: how to wear them

The fashion trends always reproduce the suede shoes among the big must. How to wear them? Here are some ideas …

Sneaker Lithe and Derby Lipsia, are two examples of different suede styles

– Simplicity is the password: the suede shoes can be easily worn with a light denim and a T shirt, a field jacket and a nice pair of sunglasses, for a timeless look;

– The mix and match: If your suede shoes have a neutral shade, you can dare textural combinations and contrasting colors. The result will be an unusual outfit, but always classy;

– Color: It’s the 70s revival: the suede invades the wardrobe, not only for accessories but for the whole outfit: jackets with pockets on the breast, trench coats, bomber jackets …


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