Swayed by suede? The material of the moment is making its presence felt all over menswear runways and the high street this season. Often treated with caution thanks to its softness and reputation for attracting stains, 2016 is the year menswear fell back in love with this incredibly soft, yet unabashedly masculine material. With the undeniably great smell of leather, the toughness of the hide and the buttery softness of its “coat”, this is a definitively desirable finish which is making a comeback in a big way this season. Here's what you should know about the soft stuff, from where it comes from, to how to wear it.
The Origin Story(Pictured: @alinsasarman)
So what is suede exactly? All real suede starts life as leather, typically from lamb or goat. To give this leather its distinctive texture, it's top grain is removed, exposing the soft, furry “nap” we recognise as suede. This nap can be given further treatments to create different suede styles and effects.
The Comeback(Pictured: @rowanrow)
Ridiculously popular in the seventies, the impracticalities of suede (it's a comparatively delicate material and can be prone to stains – although both the quality and style of the suede will both impact these features) left the soft stuff off the shelf for a number of decades. In 2016, however, suede is back and it's looking better than ever.
The reason? The current vogue for 70s influences may be playing a role, but it's designers' recent appetite for texture and authentic materials which has helped bring suede back into the spotlight. Rugged, yet soft, todays designers are doing more with suede than ever before, using it for everything from trainers to raincoats.
Wear it This Way(Pictured: Base London shoes in suede)
Love the look and want to give it a whirl yourself? The most important lesson to learn is that it's all about keeping it contemporary. With lots of vintage references to its name, if you let your look get too retro you might look like you're heading to a line dancing class.
Instead, choose impeccably modern cuts and garments; bomber jackets, worker jackets and safari jackets are the styles of the season if you want to splice suede into your outerwear to make a big statement (make sure you opt for a neutral tone). If you'd rather keep things subtle, a splash of suede in the form of a soft belt or a sleek pair of shoes is a suave way to nod to the trend without going the whole hog.
In fact, footwear is a fundamentally great place to kick off your new suede obsession. Its durability may be called into question (though we think you'll be pleasantly surprised if you undertake good maintenance and invest in quality material), but suede can do something to the slightly toffee-nosed formality for formal footwear which no other finish can. Used for brogues, Oxfords and Derby shoes, suede tones down the stuffiness and puts footwear a run above in the style stakes right now.
Love the latest suede style? How do you wear yours? Share your picks with other readers in the Base London Facebook group or browse the Base London online store to discover top quality footwear rendered in hand-selected suede. You won't be disappointed!