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20 August 2020

 by Juliette de Vries

Have you ever found yourself interested in a pair of leather shoes, but felt a bit lost during the research process? Well don’t worry, we have all been there at some point; from leather, to nubuck, to suede, there are so many options that at times it can feel overwhelming to pick the right material. Don’t worry though, we are here to help you! While it can seem a little confusing at first, you will be a leather expert by the end of this blog.

Let’s get into it!

First things first, whether you’ve heard of full grain leather, nubuck or suede, it’s all leather. The difference between the three is in fact very simple; it depends on  which part of the leather is used and how it has been processed.

Full Grain Leather

Full grain leather refers to the type of leather that has not been sanded during the tanning process. For example, a cow full grain leather is a premium leather. It’s made out of the part of the skin which comes with almost no defects; meaning no scars, moles or any type of holes. This is why it does not need to be sanded. We at FERAGGIO use calf and goat leather for our leather shoes. Did you also know that our shoes are made by hand? Read more about the craftsmanship behind FERAGGIO heels here


Historically, the Nubuck was made from buckskin of deer or elk and was brought to the US market during the 1930’s. At first, this new type of leather didn’t experience much success, until the Duke of Windsor traveled to the United States during a royal visit. For the special occasion, he wore Oxfords made of the new nubuck and thanks to him, the new style took off.

To make the nubuck, the outer layer of the calfskin is used, which has to be sanded. In most cases, nubuck is more expensive than suede. This is because the outer layer of calfskin is tougher than the inner part used for the suede, and therefore is stronger and will last longer. However there is a disadvantage to using nubuck; because the nubuck is sanded from the outside, there may be some apparent natural imperfections of the leather. Some might find that the imperfections give character to the nubuck, but for most who prefer the smooth nubuck version, manufacturers often dye and stain the nubuck. FERAGGIO does not use nubuck as we find the full grain leather to have a more elegant and luxurious aesthetic.

Img Source: africangameskin.co.za

Image source: africangameskin.co.za


In contrary to nubuck, the inner layer of calfskin (or other animal skins like goat) is used to make suede. The suede is sanded from the inner side of the leather, creating a naturally smoother and cleaner product than the nubuck. But as mentioned earlier, using the inner layer of the skin makes suede not as durable as nubuck.

When it comes to the fragility of the materials, many believe that suede for example becomes damaged once wet. Although it is not advised to expose suede to too much water, your suede shoes won’t be ruined if wet. If you can, avoid going out with suede on the rainy days, but if you do, don’t worry, your shoes will survive just fine. In fact, suede does not require much maintenance; treating your suede shoes with water proofing products and brushing them regularly with a suede brush (the soft bristles, never the wire) to maintain the nap (the actual fibers that give suede its character) will do the trick.


Many believe that suede shoes are harder to maintain and more precious than their shiny leather counterparts. This could not be further from the truth; suede actually requires less maintenance.  These shoes do not need to be shined and should never be shined, so no weekly shinning chore. Furthermore it is easier to remove a scratch and/or stain from suede than from leather. To know more about how to maintain your suede FERAGGIO heels, have a look at our care guide

This brings us to the end of this blog. You are now an expert on leather and it’s two most famous variations: nubuck and suede. Hopefully this post will help you in your search for the perfect leather shoe.  

Credits to https://ozapato.com/usa/



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