How to look after suede jackets – Video
This is the second in our series of videos looking at practical aspects of menswear.
The first, available here, explained the basics of good shoe care, with Edward Green on London's Jermyn Street.
In this second instalment we turn our attention to suede jackets, using a Valstar brown-suede jacket of mine.
I know men are often afraid of buying suede for fear of damaging it. But actually suede can hold up pretty well in the rain, if it is looked after properly.
You just need to protect it in advance and then clean it delicately, starting with just the back of your hand or a soft sponge. There are then various stages of more abrasive techniques, but all stop well short of actually damaging the skin.
I spoke to several experts in leather and suede, in Italy and the UK, to put together the recommendations in this video, so hopefully it will prove to be a good synthesis of the various tips out there.
Many thanks to Trunk Clothiers and to the Monocle cafe for allowing us to film in and around the shops, all on lovely Chiltern Street in Marylebone.
Good Morning Simon and as always thank you for a very interesting article/video. I am sure, like your previous video on shoe care, you will split the PS audience of whom a large minority seem to know far more about care of good clothing than I do. I don’t have a suede jacket but I do have three pairs of suede shoes which I find very difficult to keep clean especially after wearing a pair od desert boots in the snow last week. I felt sure you had covered this is a previous post but blowed if I could find it which leads to a couple of points that are slightly of topic.
The first relates to the PS site itself. I remember you writing a long time ago that you were very keen for the site to become a resource rather than just a standard (albeit well written and illustrated) blog. In that I think you have succeeded but considering you must have at least a couple of thousands posts by now, I am not sure if the architecture of the site is up to the job. For instance I spent ten minutes during my coffee break trying to find the aforementioned post on suede shoe cleaning and couldn’t. At the very least I think you need to increase the number of sub-headings and to make the search option more prominent. This is not a complaint because overall the site is a paragon of clean, easy to use articles and even the shop, an area where lots of organisations fall down is a model of ease of use.
The second point relates to Chiltern Street where you shot the video, which is also the home of English Cut. I think I came to you via the English Cut web site, when Thomas Mahon used to post interesting articles. You mentioned you were considering a collaboration with Thom; considering the changes at English Cut and Mr Mahon now back at Redmayne is that more or less likely? Also what is your view of companies keeping the same name when the creative genius that started it all off either moves or dies? Not just English Cut but as the generation of tailors that you use consider retiring is a suit cut and made in the style of the founder ever going to be as good as the original? Brands are completely different – you could argue that some brands, Dior for instance, have improved under new designers but a bespoke suit or shoes is so personal that I have very conflicting views on it and would value your opinion.
Thank you John, and good points on navigation. I will look at that over the coming months.
Considering English Cut, I decided not to cover them in more detail once Tom left – a large part of the appeal of the RTW/MTM brand was that it had a bespoke cutter at the helm. That isn’t there anymore.
In terms of succession more generally, I think it’s best to separate designer brands and artisans. Designer brands have run for a long time with revolving creative directors, and I think we are used to considering each one afresh.
With artisans, much of what you buy is the cutter and his experience, so it is a very tricky thing transferring the knowledge. However, it can certainly be done. At English houses it happens naturally because many of them are less driven by a single cutter. At the Italians, there just needs to be a decent crossover between generations – it has happened well at Ciardi in my experience, for example, but less so at Formosa
Simon, a point of clarification that may be of interest to you and your readers. While Mr. Mahon did, indeed, depart English Cut this past summer, each of English Cut’s tailors and artisans stayed-on with the firm and are happily serving many long-term, as well as new, Bespoke and made-to-measure clients.
Today, English Cut is run by Director and Head Coat maker Paul Griffiths (Mr. Mahon’s long-time partner in the English Cut business) as well as Head Cutter Edwin DeBoise and his son Matthew. Many of your readers may know Messrs. DeBoise from their Steed Bespoke business which is now operated from English Cut’s workshops. Paul, Edwin, and Matthew are also joined by Karl Matthews who worked with Paul and Edwin at Anderson & Sheppard many years ago.
English Cut is a dedicated consortium of cutters, tailors, and artisans with an absolute passion for the trade and serving our clients. We welcome the opportunity for you and your readers to become reacquainted with the brand and the people that make the company truly special.
Simon, thank you for your very helpful video. I have quite a few suede garments (mainly jackets), so am very appreciative of your suede care advice. Obviously also a loyal reader of your articles and appreciator of the beautiful things you show on Permanent Style!
Thank you very much for producing quality content like this – it is much appreciated! The world of menswear is severely lacking in videos.
Just to keep you up to date, English Cut is now being run by Edwin de Boise, every bit as much a Row cutter as Tom. He also, by the way, runs an excellent RTW arm.
Thank you, I hadn’t been told that.
How does Edwin have time to do that and running Steed at the same time? Is he cutting for both or is Matthew doing more of the cutting at Steed these days?
Forgive a question unrelated to this article but do you know anyone, besides Burberry who still makes a traditional trench coat? I mean like the 40’s Bogart style and colour. Long enough to cover the knees with all the trapping of a “real” trench. I purchased my last from Aquascutum in the early 70’s but this type of coat seems to have disappeared from the retail scene.
I bought a long rubberised Mac from Cordings! Very practical, a good length keeps the wind and rain out and doesn’t fall apart like the Gabardine coats.
Or look on eBay always tons of newish looking vintage Aquascutum Trench coats on there! I bought a nice one from Florida (where obviously they have no need of them unlike us in London).
The Trench he did with Private White would be a great option. Men today don’t dress in the same way as men did in the 40’s through to the 70’s which is perhaps why you cant find it…
Would you say this advice also holds for suede shoes, or do you treat them differently?
For most of it, yes. You should still spray in advance, let dry out before treating, and can use some similar products like the natural rubbers. However, simple brushing with your hand or a sponge is unlikely to work as well – there a soft brush is more likely to be needed. It’s also a little easier to re-colour suede in shoes. And of course you don’t have the last resort of a dry cleaner!
Thanks for this video. I think advice like this works really well in a visual, rather than written, format.
On a related note, how is your Sartoria Melina jacket working out? Do you wear it much? Also, when you posted the original review there was talk about them coming to London. Do you have any news?
Yes, I wear it quite a lot – although they are making some adjustments at the moment, so I haven’t had it for a month or so.
They plan to come in April, so hopefully some news soon.
Didn’t Edwin Debois or de Boise – I have seen both spelling used to work/run Steeds? And didn’t Thomas Mahon used to work at Steeds with Edwin after he left A&S?? Considering the acrimony that seems to have surrounded the departure of Mr Mahon from English Cut I would imagine some very interesting conversations in the local pubs to Savile Row!
All of which is off topic and the real question is Simon how to you clean suede shoes that have been caught in the snow? I dried them slowly and then tried some of the basic points you mention regarding suede jacket cleaning but they are still quite badly marked. Any ideas either you or PS readers?
Great video and all very sound advice – I would emphasize the hangar – make sure it is a properly shaped hangar for the garment. I design bespoke and custom made leather and do a great deal of outerwear. I always tell my clients to use a properly shaped hangar for the garment and be sure it is hanging smoothly. ( No thin hangars, no pointy shouldered wooden ones. No hangars that are overly wide or too narrow for the jacket) Especially if jacket is damp! I can always tell if a client has not kept to this!
The real question is, in the event the omnipotent eraser fails, how do the “specialty cleaners” clean the suede?
Where can I buy the triangular eraser in the video? I have been using a regular one from WH Smith but I can see the sense in a broader, more flexible one. I have several suede jackets and this video is helpful. Thanks.
They used to be on Amazon, but I can’t see them anymore. These ones are made of the same stuff though, just a different shape
Saphir have a rubber in their range which works very well but is dramatically more expensive.
Good tip on the Amazon version Simon, thanks.
would you also recommend spraying this over a shearling jacket?
Not sure what the technical/right term is, I am referring to the suede feeling shearlings and not the leather ones…..
Yes, I would
Lovely video. I have a similar blouson model in a sand suede which I picked up at a sales online, can’t rememeber the brand right now. I have some issues with the ribbed collar colapsing inward (when worn unbuttoned) and outward (when worn buttoned). I understand it’s hard to say without seeing it, but would you write this down to poor quality or poor fit (it is to be fair on the err side of tight currently).
Also, would/do you treat your tailored suede jackets the same way or are they less likely to be worn as outerwear?
Sounds like it’s more about fit, with the collar being pulled in different directions, but could also be affected by the collar being softer?
And yes, I treat my tailored suede the same way.
What is considered the optimal sleeve length for a casual suede jacket similar to your Valstar but without the elastic cuffs? The sleeves on most of my RTW jackets of this kind typically come to the base of my thumb or lower, which feels wrong. Somehow a longer sleeve seems more acceptable to me with a leather jacket than a suede one. Would you have them taken up? If so, by how much?
I wouldn’t make any difference between leather and suede, and generally with an outerwear piece like this you want the shirt to be fully covered. However, it’s a question of style and I can see why someone might want it to end where a jacket normally would, showing a centimetre of cuff
Hi Simon — what brush are you using in the video for the jacket? Is a Kent Cashmere brush sufficient for this purpose, or does the cleaning of a suede jacket require a brush with even softer bristles? https://www.hangerproject.ca/kent-cashmere-brush.html
This is fine – all garment brushes are good, just not shoe brushes
Got it, thanks, Simon. Forgot to ask: with wool, for example, it’s recommended to brush frequently (to remove the elements and so on). For suede jackets, would you recommend perhaps a weekly routine? Monthly? How often do you brush your jacket? Perhaps, I’m looking for a broader optimal wear-to-brush ratio for a working professional. I’d be wearing this to and from the office, walking outside at most a couple of hours a day.
The occasional brush is always going to be helpful, but not as required as with tailoring. If you’re wearing it most days, once a week would be optimal, once a week fine.
Hi. I just bought a valstar jacket. I bought a size above my suit size, a 52. It is still very slim fitting and short. Would a 54 fit better or the shoulders be too big?
I’m afraid I don’t know Anthony – I don’t know your body measurements or those of a Valstar in those sizes.
This’s a really valuable piece. I’m wondering if the Valstar jacket in the video is shearling lined? If so, does it have any advantages over the standard issue pieces?
Thanking you in advance for your kind help.
It’s wool lined, but not shearling. And yes, it is warmer, though the thickness does make it a little thicker and spongey – not as clean a look
Simon, super helpful video – in fact, I’ve bookmarked it for future reference this autumn and winter!
My apologies for the slightly off-topic question – who is the maker of the cream v-neck sweater you’re wearing in the video?
Thank you Simon (and everyone else involved) for producing this video. It’s the first of all the video guides here on PS the content of which I can now actively apply, having recently acquired a ready-to-wear suede jacket. On the subject of that jacket, Simon: may I ask if you’ve had any firsthand experience of Portuguese brand Sacoor Brothers, or if you could point me to other menswear enthusiasts who can attest to their level of quality and manufacturing/ethical practices? I would absolutely appreciate an external informed opinion from anyone on whether I have begun my foray into pricier clothing at a reasonably decent starting point (having not yet finished developing a seasoned enthusiast’s eye to discern that on my own.)
I haven’t, sorry
I understand. Thanks anyway, and thanks for the video! Will do a bit more digging, I might discover something good. Would it be alright if I share with you anything I find out?
Hi Simon – one question I’ve been trying to answer but have had trouble researching on (due to limited quality resources available) is: Is it normal for suede, especially in a new jacket, to slightly bleed? I suppose this depends on how the suede is dyed. Any thoughts on this generally? Would love to hear from your experience as I just invested in a new suede jacket that left a tiny bit of color on my hands in the first wear.
Separately, just as you’ve written guides on fabrics, tailoring, style, etc., as a frequent reader it would be great to have a resource on leather (including how it’s made, dyed, what process is better, etc.).
No, I don’t think good suede should bleed – certainly I’ve never had any do so. But I’ve never asked an expert actually.
Thanks on the leather idea. A big area, but it should be possible to do something concise
Hi, what’s your opinion on cleaning nubuck? I have a flight jacket in nubuck, lining in synthetic material and cuff areas in cotton. The jacket has a couple of stains on the cuff area which is a decently easy cleaning job, but I’m not sure how I should proceed with cleaning the nubuck aspect of the jacket. Dry cleaning I reckon would dry out the oily surface and steam cleaning perhaps might be “too much” and remove the natural oil of the leather? Although the leather hasn’t been stained ever, the jacket has been used very frequently throughout the winter and early autumn I feel that I should freshen it up before storing it away until next season. I feel like steam cleaning is the most viable option but I’m interested in your advice before I proceed. Thank you.
Hi. I’m not sure to be honest – but my first person to ask would be Cromford Leather. I will, and report back
I wish I had read this article sooner… I lent my suede leather jacket to a colleague who spilled some kebab sauce on it almost immediately.
Because I did not trust myself to clean it, I sent it off to a leather cleaning specialist. What I got back was no longer a suede jacket, and I’ve been going back and forth for 2 months now to get this sorted out…
Oh dear, sorry to hear that. I guess at least you’ll know for next time…
Would you advocate using the same spray as a protector on a sheepskin, shearling lined coat?
No, not necessarily. I haven’t tried protecting a coat like that, so couldn’t tell you what product would be best. But I would hesitate from recommending this one, having not had that experience.
Can you recommend any companies that restore suede jackets in the UK please? I have a lovely barbanera suede jacket that is stained and heavily scuffed. Thanks.
I’d ask Cromford Leather as my first port of call
Where can we buy the eraser that you used on the suede jacket?
with kind regards
Have a look in the comments above – there’s a link to one on Amazon
Still a really useful video Simon, the tip on using a spray of the protector on marks has served me well with shoes and my Valstarino since you posted it up.
Have you had any experience dealing with creases in suede? After being the fulcrum of my wardrobe on a long trip I recently had my unlined jacket (apparently) professionally cleaned as it was a little beyond DIY. It was returned to me clean, but ‘crispy’ (if that makes sense) and with really noticeable kinks and creases, particularly around seams and pockets. A soft brush brought the nap back nicely but the creasing don’t seem to be falling out or softening with hanging and normal wear.
Would you avoid using any steam or an iron (even with some sort of barrier between the iron and the garment)?
Really pleased to hear that.
It’s hard to say remotely, but it sounds to me like perhaps the dry cleaning has effected some structure or fusing around the edges, hence it being around pockets and seams. Rather than affecting the suede.
You probably didn’t have much choice, but it’s really worth avoiding dry cleaners if you can, even so-called specialists. They just send things off to a third party, and have little knowledge of the work that is done, or interest in taking responsibility for it.
It’s one of the things we lose with online businesses and lack of physical shops, unfortunately. If there were a Valstar shop, you would rightly expect them to be able to take it away and clean it well for you.
What would be your suggestions around coat hangers for a Valstarino suede unlined?
Most hangers would be absolutely fine. Perhaps ideally one with a broader shoulder, rather than a thin wire one, but there are none of the issues of tailoring etc
Thanks Simon. I was thinking padded hangers. From your experience, would you think these could be too wide/ wrong shape for the shoulder?
No, I wouldn’t worry about that, or about being padded or not. There isn’t much you could really effect or damage
I have a lambskin suede jacket from Isaia. After cleaning some spots on the jacket with a rubber, conditioning, and brushing it, the patch where I used the rubber has become noticeably rougher. How do I restore the smoothness of the nap to match the other parts of the jacket?
Separately, can you please write an article or post a video about how suede ages and changes with time and use?
I’m not sure that will be possible to repair unfortunately. The nap is the one thing that can’t be fixed – it is basically the material itself. If brushing back and forth doesn’t change it, I’m afraid nothing will.
Sure, I can plan something like that on how suede ages.
Thank you! Which brush and sponge do you recommend for delicate suede jackets? It would be very helpful if you could provide links.
They don’t have to be anything specific. Just a soft brush and a regular sponge
Can you use the saphir on suede sheep or goat skin? Thanks!
Sorry Peter, which Saphir product? I wouldn’t use a cream or polish on any suede, no
Renovateur comes as a spray. It’s good for suede shoes, but I never used it on jackets or bags.
Thank you. Yes I’d use Renovateur on shoes, that’s fine
The saphir super invulner mentioned in the caring of a suede jacket. I just purchased one and upon your video.
I see, Ok great
Sorry. Looks like my initial question wasn’t clear. I purchased a suede jacket that is made from sheep or goat suede. Can I use saphir super invulner on it? Thanks!
No worries. Yes you can