We all love our leather shoes, especially brown brogues; that much is perfectly clear. Our collective obsession has reached an almost religious fanaticism, but this often leads us to forget leathers more casual but no less sartorial sibling; suede. It is perhaps partly due to the current season that we have pushed the humble suede shoe to the back of our minds but with a suede variant of almost every leather shoe imaginable, it is a hard material to ignore.

I am a big fan of suede. It offers much more than leather in terms of colour and season appropriate comfort and helps to keep outfits on the casual side of formal. However, it still needs a great deal of care – perhaps even more so than leather. The process is simpler but the material more delicate, suede reacts quite unfavourably to many of our more prevalent weather types and if we want to keep our outfits looking sharp, good suede care is essential.

So here is the FashionBeans guide to caring for your (possibly blue) suede shoes.

The Tools
Suede Brush

The best way to keep your shoes clean is to use a suede specific brush. You can buy either multipurpose or brass wire brushes for buffing up the nap of the material; the multipurpose examples will be the most versatile and will also be safer for those nervous about scuffing or marking their shoes.

  • Punch Multi-purpose Suede BrushPunch Multi-purpose Suede Brush
  • Suede Brush MiscellaneousSuede Brush Miscellaneous
  • Suede Nubuck Crepe Suede BrushSuede Nubuck Crepe Suede Brush
Suede Protector

Prevention is better than cure and with suede it is all about prevention. Invest in some high quality suede protector to help defend your precious shoes against marks and stains from the off. Spray shoes regularly to maintain a constant level of protection.

  • Timberland All Purpose Protector SprayTimberland All Purpose Protector Spray
  • Tarrago Nano Protector Spray For Leather Suede Nubuck & Textile Materials In The High-tech BranchTarrago Nano Protector Spray For Leather Suede Nubuck & Textile Materials In The High-tech Branch
  • Instant Protector 0.2lInstant Protector 0.2l
The Method

As I mentioned earlier, the process of protecting your suede is much simpler than that of leather care, but the material is far more delicate so it needs to be done regularly.

  1. Brush your shoes with the suede brush after every use, this will revive the nap and remove any excess surface dirt that may have accumulated.
  2. Spray all over with the suede protector. Take the manufacturers advice and test it on a small area first, as this will prevent you from ruining the colour. Once again, spray regularly to keep the level of protection constant.

This is all you need to do to protect your suede shoes, but there are many other things you can do in order to help preserve them even further and to remove any stains that do appear.

Removing Stains

For the most serious of stains, don’t try to remove them yourself, chances are it will go wrong and your shoes will be going in the bin. Take them to a cobbler – they will have a much better set of skills and tools at their disposal and you can get your money back if something does go wrong.

For milder stains you can try one of three things:

  1. The first and least desirable is to use a small file or emery board. Rubbing very lightly you will remove the stain but also risk damaging the material quite severely.
  2. The second is a suggestion from our own Matt Allinson – by rubbing both shoes against each other you gently brush away the stain without hurting the nap.
  3. The third and most efficient method is to invest in a suede cleaning block or suede eraser which will crumble as you rub the stain, hopefully removing even the deeper stains.
  • Punch Suede/nubuck Cleaning BlockPunch Suede/nubuck Cleaning Block
  • Dryclean Kit MiscellaneousDryclean Kit Miscellaneous
  • Suede Block MiscellaneousSuede Block Miscellaneous

Once you have removed stains, brush up the nap with your suede brush and re-spray with protector.

Additional Suede Care Tips
  • Always brush the nap in the same direction, this will keep the shoes looking clean and stop you just brushing dirt around the shoe.
  • Do not leave your shoes in the sun, this will fade the colour. Keep them cool, dry and well aired.
  • Make use of shoe trees, these will soak up the extra moisture from your feet and help to maintain the shape. If you don’t own shoe trees use white paper rather than newspaper, as this will avoid any of the print seeping into the material.
  • If your shoes do get wet, try to absorb as much moisture as possible before leaving to dry naturally. You can then deal with water marks once they are fully dried.
  • If you get mud on them, leave it to dry before brushing off in a sweeping motion, again so that you don’t just brush the dirt around the shoe
  • Avoid harsh chemicals, these will damage both colour and material; keep it as natural as possible.
Suede Footwear Picks
  • Topman Mason Penny LoaferTopman Mason Penny Loafer
  • Asos Suede Driving ShoesAsos Suede Driving Shoes
  • H By Hudson Higgins Suede Lace-up ShoesH By Hudson Higgins Suede Lace-up Shoes
  • Topman Butler BrogueTopman Butler Brogue
  • Grenson Finlay Navy Suede ShoesGrenson Finlay Navy Suede Shoes
  • Topman Leicester Buckle BootTopman Leicester Buckle Boot
  • Paul Smith Shoes Taupe Burnished Suede Cesar BootsPaul Smith Shoes Taupe Burnished Suede Cesar Boots
  • Clarks Originals Khaki Nubuck Desert BootsClarks Originals Khaki Nubuck Desert Boots
  • Allsaints Ridge BootAllsaints Ridge Boot
  • John Varvatos Six O Six Convertible Suede BootsJohn Varvatos Six O Six Convertible Suede Boots
  • Dolce & Gabbana Pointed Suede Derby ShoesDolce & Gabbana Pointed Suede Derby Shoes
  • Alexander Mcqueen Suede Tasselled LoafersAlexander Mcqueen Suede Tasselled Loafers

Caring for your clothes is just one aspect of being a fashionable man, it has been proven time and time again that clean and well looked after shoes make a world of difference to an outfit and it would be foolish to think otherwise. Take care of your shoes, take care of your investment and make the most of your wardrobe.

Let me know any of your suede care tips in the comments below and as always, feel free to ask any questions you might have.