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Real Suede Fabric vs. Imitations: How to Spot the Difference

by:Yier Textile     2023-09-26

Real Suede Fabric vs. Imitations: How to Spot the Difference


Suede fabric has long been known for its luxurious texture and timeless appeal. Whether used in clothing, upholstery, or accessories, suede adds a touch of elegance to any product. But in a market flooded with imitations, it becomes crucial to learn how to differentiate real suede from its synthetic counterparts. In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of distinguishing between real suede fabric and its imitations.

Understanding Real Suede Fabric

1. The Origin of Real Suede

Real suede fabric is derived from the underside of animal hides, primarily sheep, lambs, goats, or cows. The term 'suede' originates from the French word 'gants de Suède,' meaning 'gloves from Sweden.' Initially, it was only used to describe gloves, but over time, it encapsulated any fabric with a similar texture.

2. Characteristics of Real Suede

Real suede fabric is known for its unique combination of softness, breathability, and durability. It has a velvety surface with a short, fuzz-like nap due to the natural fibers that make it up. When touched, real suede feels warm and supple, molding to the shape of your hand or body.

3. Gentle Care for Real Suede

Caring for real suede requires special attention. To maintain its pristine appearance, it is essential to avoid exposure to moisture, sunlight, and harsh chemicals. Real suede is susceptible to staining, so it is advisable to use a specialized suede brush to remove dirt and restore its texture. Gentle spot-cleaning with suede-specific products, combined with periodic professional cleaning, can preserve the lifespan of real suede fabric.

Differentiating Real Suede from Imitations

1. Synthetic Suede: The First Impression

Imitations of suede fabric have flooded the market due to their lower cost and wider availability. Synthetic suede, also known as faux suede, is usually made from a composite of synthetic fibers, such as polyester or nylon. The first step in spotting the difference is through touch. While synthetic suede may feel soft, it lacks the natural warmth and suppleness of real suede.

2. Examining the Texture

Real suede fabric has a distinct texture that sets it apart from imitations. Its nap is made of natural fiber, resulting in a softer, more organic look. Real suede has a slightly uneven surface, with subtle shading variations that provide a beautiful depth. On the other hand, faux suede typically has a uniform texture due to its synthetic composition.

3. Water Repellency Test

One of the most effective ways to identify genuine suede is through water repellency. Real suede fabric has a natural resistance to water, making droplets bead upon contact. While the water will eventually seep through if left untreated, the initial repellency is a good indicator of authenticity. In contrast, synthetic suede tends to absorb water easily, leaving visible wet patches.

4. Burn Test

Although not recommended for everyday users, the burn test can provide valuable insights into the nature of the fabric. Real suede, being natural, will burn and emit a smell similar to burning hair. Synthetic suede, however, will melt and give off a chemical odor. This test should be conducted with extreme caution and only in a controlled environment.

5. Brand and Certification

To ensure you are purchasing genuine suede fabric, it is beneficial to check brand reputation and certifications. Trusted brands usually guarantee the authenticity and quality of their products. Additionally, certifications such as the Genuine Leather Mark or the Leather Working Group certification can provide reassurance regarding the authenticity of the suede fabric.


Real suede fabric continues to captivate consumers with its unmatched luxury and sophistication. The tactile experience it offers and its timeless appeal set it apart from synthetic imitations. By understanding the origins, characteristics, and care requirements of real suede, as well as learning to differentiate it from synthetic alternatives, consumers can make informed decisions when purchasing suede products. So, the next time you are in the market for a suede garment or accessory, ensure you can spot the difference between real suede and its imitations to get the premium quality you desire.

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