Know Your Suedes and Alcantara Fabric Materials

Know Your Suedes and Alcantara Fabric Materials

April 22, 2023

Jane Smith, Managing Director

How To Tell A Suede, From An Alcantara and A Nubuck To Fabric.

With so many different materials in vehicles and homes it can become a minefield if you don’t know at your looking at.

How can you tell a suede from an Alcantara, its actually very simple once you have been shown, not looking for help on these type of materials is where confusion comes in and costly mistakes happen. Education is important, get to know your materials.

The first way of telling a fabric from a suede is smell, the suede or nubuck will smell of leather, materials won’t have a smell to them.  

Focusing on the material types with the naked eye will help, lets look at Nubuck first of all, Nubuck is a top grain cattle leather that’s been sanded on the grain side to produce a velvet feel and touch to the material. The sanding process gives a short nap to the short protein fibres. Nubuck is like a Suede, but Nubuck is from the top grain, whereas Suede is from the drop split a much lower quality material.

Nubuck when you look at with the naked eye, you can see the grain in the leather as its top grain leather, whereas with Suede you cant see that as its sanded on the inside rather than the top side to give you a Suede finish, Suede again you can see when looking and studying a skin you can see veins and marks in the hide where its been sanded. This applies to the Lamb Suede and the Cow Suede also.

Another way of looking at these types of leathers is via a linen tester a form of magnifying glass, this is very useful to help identify them too faux materials like Alcantara and faux Materials.

With a magnifying glass looking at a Nubuck or Suede you will see grain structure and flat matt look to the fibres that have an interwind woven look to them, almost like a network of cables running in all directions this is what’s giving strength to the leather skins, this network of fibres don’t reflect and very fibrous in look and shape.

Nubuck Showing The Top Grain with a camera
Nubuck picture close up with a camera

Suede pictures close up with a camera.
Suede With A Linen Tester

Looking at an Alcantara or Faux Alcantara with a linen tester you can tell at once, the fibres are all individual and have shine to them, almost like fibre optics, it’s like the fibres are glowing as if they have lights inside of them.

Alcantara picture close up with a camera.

Alcantara With Linen Tester.

Faux Alcantara picture close up with a camera.

Faux Alcantara With Linen Tester.

Understanding what each material is and how to care for it is essential, not understanding these materials above or knowing how to tell them apart could be a costly mistake for your business. Education is priceless, yes it has a cost element to it, but a reputation takes many years to build and one simple mistake can ruin it for ever, so in essence learning is the best investment you can make for your businesses health.

Alcantara Left and Suede Right

This pictures shows you the two differences of these materials together, suede clearly has a good quality nap to it when zoomed in with a camera, while the Alcantara is almost smooth when zoomed in with camera. The differences are amazing.

We do hope tis guide helps you to understand these materials better that are in vehicles, boats, planes and on other items.

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