Loro Piana suede jacket
Loro Piana

I’ve been pleased to see that suede has enjoyed something of a renaissance in recent years. Italians like Loro Piana have always done it well – often in a classic Italian mix of brown suede and grey cashmere – but others such as Berluti, Dunhill and Gieves & Hawkes have embraced it recently.

At any price point, suede is a sophisticated material for casual jackets. It feels younger than tweed, corduroy or other cloths, and is more subtle than the obvious alternative, leather. (Though, perhaps, worn without white trousers.)
 

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Berluti

I wrote a feature for the upcoming issue of The Rake on suede, which touched on these style points, as well as historical and technical ones.

Starting with the last – good suede is normally the reverse of the skin, but it can be a split skin as well (where a thicker skin is split and kept the right way up). This tends to be weaker, as it doesn’t have the leather surface on the back. It’s one reason shoemakers might say they use ‘reverse calf’ rather than just suede.

Historically, I found it interesting that the processes necessary for making suede often meant that it was often seen as a luxury material. The fact that it was so susceptible to the elements contributed to the same impression. (Berluti, more than anyone, is innovating in this area, but more on that another time.)
 

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Brunello Cucinelli

In terms of style, most interviewees drew on the subtlety and sophistication of suede, highlighting the fine nap that absorbs light rather than reflecting it (like leather). But they also pointed out the great way that suede takes colour, making it a good option for spring and summer. (Gieves in particular has some lovely sugary tones.)

My favourite suede jacket is a dark-brown blouson I bought from Kilgour the first time Carlo was at the helm. Simple and unlined, it is the perfect weekend jacket – with jeans, flannels or linen. I also recommend the classic Louis W Ferris model from APC, the J Crew suede bombers, and anything from Loro Piana (some slimmer styles coming in this season, which is great to see).  

I am having a suede jacket made by Lorenzo Cifonelli at the moment. We’re hoping to have it ready for Autumn. Interestingly, the French tailors do more in suede than others, because they usually have leather workers in-house. Leather work requires special needles, not to say expertise, and when others use leather (as Gieves did for me) they have to use outworkers. 

Keep an eye out for the Rake piece.

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Loro Piana, above and below

Loro Piana suede jackets

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Oskar

Nice one, Simon. I also like the Valstarino as the classic Italian RTW choice with a super soft hand.

John H

Yes, Valstar make a stunning jacket.

Incognito

Suede shoes? Belt? Gloves? Other accessories?

Suede Jacket? A step too far for me! If gets dirty/ stained/ splits etc…the maintenance just seems too much of a hassle even for my fastidious self.

I appreciate the aesthetic in others and commend Simon for this, but this is outside of my purview.

AFH

There’s a Seinfeld episode where Jerry buys a suede jacket that’s a constant reminder for me not to buy one. They’re very nice, but don’t feel like a London thing.

Enzo

Simon
Can you suggest me some european online shops with a good variety of trousers at affordable prices? In the range of 120-150€ for a pair of trousers. Howard yount and epaulet are nice, but americans.

Incognito

Isn’t Alcantara mainly used in car seats and the like?

I unintentionally omited the annex ‘yes’ at the end of my list earlier; in the sense that i am a lover of suede (over two-thirds of my not insignificant shoe collection is suede) and own suede accessories but a suede jacket is above my station.

My wardrobe is just not fully developed enough for it yet – maybe never!

Anyhow, looking forward to your Cifonelli suede jacket (Is there anything they cannot make? 😉 ). Full of admiration!

JH

What are the considerations for wearing suede shoes with a suede jacket? Would “double suede” be a faux pas? The reason I ask is that outfits where you’d wear a suede jacket are often those where the natural shoe choice would be suede (as in some of the photos in this post).

Anonymous

Hi Simon

Do you still stand by the above comment. I’m thinking of buying from polo suede valstar jacket from drakes. However, my concern is that all my shoes are suede. Would chocolate suede chukka boots go with a polo suede jacket?

Thanks

Mac

People obsess too much about wearing suede shoes or jkts in the rain. It’s a natural material. It can handle a bit of water. It will change a little in colour and texture over time. Stop being so ridiculous!

David Craggs

Suede jackets, as superficially desirable as they may be (they tend to rear their heads every ten years or so) have been the sartorial bane of my life.
They are intemperate — it’s either too hot or too cold to wear one and they breath atrociously. Furthermore, by the end of week three, some ne’er-do-well has either brushed against it with a cigarette or droped a glass of red wine all over it. It will then take its position at the back of your wardrobe and your wife will constantly remind you of the fact that she advised you not to buy it.
Suede shoes yes — jackets, my advice would be tread carefully because you probably won’t wear it.
On the subject of Loro Piana, they do make a fabulous, versatile jacket called ‘The Traveller’. I own one and it’s one of the most useful pieces in my collection.

Edoardo

Dear Mr. Crompton,

Lovely article, as usual. Just like some of the previous commentators, me too, I am fond of the “Valstarino” jacket. I feel Valstar have a strong heritage, and they have been consistently making good quality suede jackets over the years.
P.s., please, note that there is a typo error in one of the captions: it should read “Cucinelli” and not “Cucinneli”.

Michael Small

Hi Simon, I enjoyed reading this article and now I am determined to resurrect my suede blouson from the back of the cloakroom.

AO

Even as I was scrolling down and didn’t yet see the caption under the first image, I knew it was from Loro Piana. Something extremely distinctive about that ensemble.

Actually, it and all of the others featured in this article are absolutely beautiful. I see white trousers as somewhat ballsy – although I own some fitted white jeans for summer, I am yet to actually wear them. The suede blousons look beautiful however, and I’ll have to pick one up if I find one within budget.

On a side note, I love that this blog has opened my eyes to suede over the years. My brown suede penny loafers remain one of my best buys in this category, and put a smile on my face every time I wear them.

Carl

How would you compare the style and quality of the Louis W Ferris from APC with a Valstarino in suede? I have the oppurtunity to buy the former but the Valstarino seems quite similar.

Anonymous

Hi Simon! What do you think of this Drake’s jacket? https://therake.com/drakes-khaki-suede-shirt-jacket.html

Colour and style-wise? Thanks!

Anonymous

Good points all. Thankfully The Rake has free returns, so I think I’ll try it home and, if not suitable, send it back. Thanks!

Anonymous

You were right on all counts. While the suede is beautiful, the pockets were bulky and the collar small. Most importantly, the jacket was a bit shorter than I would have liked.

I am now considering The Armoury’s suede blouson. Have you seen it/tried it? If so, what do you think about it?

I’m drawn to the olive suede (https://thearmoury.com/products/the-armoury-wright-jacket?variant=31838898159687). What do you think of this colour? Thanks!

Anonymous

Thank you, Simon. Yes, I have tried Valstarinos and like them very much – I actually have one in the light brown suede.

Apologies for abusing your time, but your input is most helpful. A few more questions if you wouldn’t mind:

1. Would you say that the Armoury’s blouson is of a noticeable higher quality than Valstar’s (in material and/or make)? There is a 30% price jump so wondering whether it’s worth it.

2. I noticed you posted a story with a Rifugio blouson. How would you compare it quality-wise to the Armoury’s and Valstar’s?

3. Any thoughts on the olive suede colour of the Armoury’s?

Thanks very much!

Christopher

Dear Simon,
finally spring has arrived. This got me thinking about your suede bomber jacket, which is sold. Beside this fact, I am in doubt, if I am ready to wear it even these can look awesome. As an alternative I think about the Private White moleskin bomber jacket.
I would appreciate your thoughts!

Christopher

Thank you for your reply! I might think about suede… Have you planned any restock?

Daniel

Hi Simon,

That is great to hear. Already have the dark brown Valstarino, and was looking to pickup a either a Navy or Tobacco Suede jacket in the coming weeks.

Will definitely wait now and see what you will hopefully be releasing later this year!

Daniel

Hi Simon,

Just curious but will the jacket be a new Valstarino color, or a completely different design?

Christopher

Dear Simon, any details which can already share with us? I intend to wear the jacket in the spring, but you mentioned the release will be later in the year. Would be great to get more information, I guess it will be worth to wait