Woman holding Nubuck Leather tote

Caring For Nubuck Leather

So you’re interested in nubuck leather - but you’d  like to know more about this luxe material before making a commitment…

Maybe you’ve heard of nubuck leather, maybe one of your friends has a nubuck handbag, or maybe you just want to learn more. We’re here to help you out!

Hammitt Daniel Grey Natural

So, what is nubuck leather?

Nubuck is different from other leathers. Nubuck looks and feels like suede, but is far more durable and typically stronger, making it perfect for long-term use. Additionally, nubuck leather is typically high-quality leather, so it’s an ideal luxury investment.

When making nubuck leather, the top-grain outer layer of calfskin is utilized. The outer layer is sturdier and more resilient than the inner layer, which is usually used to make suede. This is why when comparing nubuck and suede, nubuck takes the cake quality-wise. However, because calfskin can have imperfections, the outer layer is smoothed and buffed to produce a consistent appearance. The buffing process leaves short protein fibers, giving a velvet-like, soft finish to the leather. Once it’s buffed, the nubuck leather is typically stained or dyed to become eye-popping hues.

There are plenty of advantages when it comes to nubuck leather. First, it’s stronger and more durable than other leathers. Additionally, since it has a beautifully velvet-like, soft finish, there’s no polishing or shining required! If you take good care of it, nubuck can last for a lifetime, while still maintaining its flexible softness.

While oils and grime have been known to stain nubuck’s soft surface, proper care and protection can help to avoid these dreaded pitfalls. While nubuck’s colors can fade over time, damage from light can easily be mitigated with storage in a clean dust bag, away from bedroom or closet windows. 

Now, let’s answer your most burning question: What’s the real difference between nubuck and suede?

What’s the difference between nubuck and suede?

Nubuck and suede leathers are often confused, as they share the same kind of velvety finish and a similar look and feel. That said, nubuck is a bit stronger than suede. Nubuck has very fine leather fibers, while suede has significantly coarser leather fibers. Nubuck is made from the outer layer of the hide, which tends to be thicker, sturdier, and durable. This means that nubuck tends to be slightly less soft to the touch than suede, but much more durable. Additional durability and toughness make nubuck the perfect building block for handbags that stand the test of time. But, here’s a tip: as a general rule, nubuck is much nicer and therefore costs more than suede leather!

There are so many options for buying nubuck handbags…how can you find the perfect one? While there are a lot out there, we have a few favorites. We always recommend anything in our Grey Natural colorway…especially our Daniel Lrg Grey Natural (which pairs perfectly with our 110 North Grey Natural!).

(But here’s an insider tip…we have new nubuck leathers dropping this spring!)

Is nubuck leather easy to clean?

Unlike other types of leather, nubuck has a velvety surface. If you want a smoother leather, look for full-grain leather, top-grain leather, and pebbled leathers. Since nubuck is an investment, you want to take care of your nubuck leather bag. How can you take care of your nubuck leather? Start by cleaning excess debris with lightly damp cloth. Then, apply a small amount of leather cleaner (you can purchase our leather care kit here) onto a thin, soft cloth, and dab the stain. For best results, go against the grain while rubbing in circular motion. Let this dry for 1 hour and apply more coats if needed. Let it cure for 24 hours. We also recommend feathering/tapering the edges of the cleaner when applying so as to never leave hard lines.

Caring for your nubuck leather isn’t just about cleaning! To keep your purse looking fresh, make sure to follow all storage recommendations. This includes storing it in a cool, dry place and in a dustbag. Exposing the leather to certain elements for a long period of time may ruin the leather. Allow your leather to be protected, especially when not in use. While using, if needed, you can apply a conditioning product every two or three weeks to keep it supple.

While water should be generally avoided when it comes to nubuck, if your nubuck bag does get wet, allow it to dry in a cool dry place and it will return to its original color.

Need help finding your perfect nubuck leather bag? We have a nubuck bag for every need.

First and foremost…we have our all-time favorite: Daniel Lrg Grey Natural

Get down to business with our classic Daniel satchel. Crafted with brushed gold  rivets, an optional crossbody strap and reinforced hardware, the revamped Daniel is ready to take on your busy calendar. Ready to set a meeting?

For the wellness wonder woman: Hunter Med Grey Natural

A design team favorite, this is truly the perfect day backpack. It’s easy to carry, with generous interior space which includes a drop pocket, a zipper pocket, and a credit card slot!

For the woman on the go who needs the perfect day-to-night transition crossbody and clutch: VIP Med Grey Natural

Because you're a VIP. Our all-time best-seller, this VIP features an optional strap and elevated rivets. Plus, you'll find a luxe red line peeking out along the bag's back seam. We're classy like that.

For the networking extraordinaire: Benjamin Grey Natural

Meet your new favorite coworker. This professional tote brings a touch of polish to the boardroom with dedicated pockets for your cell phone, water bottle and laptop, plus slots for credit cards and pens. Made with a velvet-like finish, this thick, durable nubuck is as soft as it is versatile.

Always prepared supermom: Addie Lrg Grey Natural

Perfect for errands now and travel later, this new, no-fuss carry-all tote features an easy gliding zippered closure.

For the expert jet-setter: Levy Grey Natural

Transition seamlessly from a wallet to a clutch or crossbody thanks to Levy's removable, adjustable strap. Even when you wear Levy on your shoulder, it's packed with all the organizational elements of your favorite wallet, from four credit card slots and two bill drop pockets to a clear ID slot and cell phone pocket. It even has a spot for your passport!

So if you’re looking for your next perfect leather handbag, nubuck is a great option. It’s real, durable leather that feels as good as it looks. But like every investment piece, make sure to take good care of it so it can last a lifetime!

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