You probably read the headline above and thought to yourself: The leather sneaker is leather, and the suede sneaker is suede. There’s nothing else to it. But in fact, there’s a lot more to it.
Leather sneakers and suede sneakers don’t just differ in texture—they also require differing care methods and they react differently to environmental elements. That said, it’s important to consider your lifestyle when shopping for leather shoes.
Here, we break down the core differences between leather and suede sneakers to help you determine which material is best for you.
How do they differ?
Leather and suede are both animal hides, but they look and feel different. Leather is defined by its smooth texture, while suede’s surface can be more accurately described as soft—this is because leather is the outer-facing side of the hide, while suede is the inner-facing side.
Because leather is the exterior of a hide, it’s more durable. This side is thick and conditioned to resist the environmental elements, nicks and scratches, though it can still be damaged if not properly cared for. Suede, on the other hand, is less resistant because it’s the interior of the hide.
The good news about Koio sneakers is that they’re made from high-quality Italian leathers and suedes. Because they’re manufactured and tanned with care, they’re more water-resistant than the average hide.
Where will you wear them?
When deciding between leather and suede shoes, it’s important to consider where you plan on wearing them.
Given that leather is a bit more durable than suede, leather sneakers are suitable for nearly every occasion, be it outdoor or indoor. Suede, however, is best for indoor wear. It’s certainly okay to wear suede outside, but bear in mind that it’s more susceptible to stains and water damage.
How will you care for them?
You should always look into how to care for your shoes—both leather and suede. If you clean them regularly and treat them with protectants, they’ll almost certainly last longer.
Leather Care*: When you first get your leather sneakers, spray them with a protective spray such as Crep Protect’s water and stain-resistant one. Reapply it every few months to keep rain, snow, and occasional water spills from causing damage.
We also recommend using Crep Protect’s ‘Cure’ kit to brush away inevitable marks and scuffs that come with regular wear. It includes a shoe cleaning formula and microfiber cloth to gently sweep away dirt and dust, plus a brush to help you target hard-to-reach areas.
Suede Care: Just as you would with leather sneakers, spray your suede sneakers with a protective spray such as Crep Protect’s water and stain-resistant one. Do this before your first wear, then reapply it every few months to keep rain, snow, and occasional water spills from causing damage.
Suede doesn’t react well to moisture, so we recommend avoiding liquid cleaners and bristled brushes. Instead, spot-clean your suede sneakers with a suede eraser, which doesn’t require any water at all.
We also recommend inserting shoe trees into your leather or suede sneakers between wears. Our cedar shoe trees help maintain shoe structure, absorb moisture, and neutralize unwanted odors.
*These care instructions do not apply to vegetable-tanned leather. For vegetable-tanned leather care instructions, please view our care guide.
Ready to shop?
Now that you know the difference between suede and leather sneakers, you can shop wisely for your new shoes. When you shop here on koio.co, you’ll notice that every pair is designed with versatility in mind, so you’ll get plenty of wear out of them regardless of the material.