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Suede vs Smooth Leather

Traditionally, desert boots have been made with suede leather. As the style has blossomed into a classic, new twists on the standard formula have been attempted. One popular variation is the use of smooth leather for a smarter look with a polished shine. The choice between suede and leather can be tough to decide, if you don't know the facts.

From a style perspective, smooth leather can bring a strong and formal appearance that matches well with a suit or other smart outfits. Suede is traditionally softer and takes advantage of a more casual look, particularly with jeans. Gentle to touch, suede also makes extra pleasant lining and insole.


Maintenance is a key issue with natural materials like these. Most smooth leathers are made with high quality, undamaged hide, and as such is generally lower maintenance but more expensive. General care consists mostly of airing your shoes out after you take them off, and wiping down any wear or stain with a damp cloth. Most smooth leather already have some level of protection (surfactants) from the tannery, and in fact, overzealous use of chemical cleaning products can wear  away this initial protection, shortening the lifespan of your shoes. Water damage can stain, though extra protection is easily applied. Various shoe creams or polish can also retain the look they had when you first bought them.

With this in mind, the choice between suede and leather is really a matter of opinion. It all boils down to what you want out of your boots. Suede leather desert boots are more affordable and can complete or accentuate a great casual outfit. It does require more care lest you lose is soft, flexible quality. Smooth leather works best for a more formal look. They're more expensive, paying off with durability. With these facts in mind, the right choice for you can be that much easier.

Suede, while softer and more affordable, is also more susceptible to damage. They're made with the thin inner splits of the animal skin, making them much more flexible but less durable. Water is a particular problem, and without protection, a few drops can change the softness of suede into an uneven stiffness with some discolouration. Dye can more easily run from suede than many other materials. Thankfully there are protective treatments as well as cleaning products, though these should be used judiciously. Overzealous cleaning can cause damage.


Suede leather Popps desert boots
Leather Popps desert boots