What is Nubuck Leather? - Everything You Wanted To Know

What is Nubuck Leather? - Everything You Wanted To Know


    Introduction To Nubuck Leather

    Nubuck leather, a top-grain leather that is sanded or buffed on the grain side, exudes a velvety surface that sets it apart from other leathers. Revered for its durability, supple texture, and luxury appeal, Nubuck has found its place in high-end luxury fashion, especially smaller accessories. Yet, as with any material, understanding its characteristics, origin, production process, and maintenance needs can deepen your appreciation for it and help you make informed decisions when investing in Nubuck leather goods.

    What is Nubuck Leather

    Definition and Origin: Originating from the leather tanning traditions of yore, Nubuck leather gets its name from "new" and "buck", a nod to the young deer hides initially used for its production. Over time, the term has expanded to include similar materials made from other types of hide, typically cowhide or calfskin. This top-grain leather is valued for its velvety surface, achieved through sanding or buffing, which distinguishes it from other types of leather in texture and appearance.

    The Unique Appeal of Nubuck Leather

    Nubuck's soft and velvety surface, resembling suede but far more durable, is its defining trait. While both materials share a similar aesthetic, Nubuck's origin from the exterior hide gives it a thickness of about 1.2-2.0 millimeters, resulting in superior durability compared to suede.

    Crafting Process of Nubuck Leather:

    Selection of Suitable Hide

    The journey of Nubuck leather begins with the careful selection of top-quality hides. Typically, hides from cows or calves, known for their thickness and durability, are chosen for Nubuck production. These hides, once sourced, are meticulously inspected for imperfections such as scars or insect bites, which might compromise the final product's aesthetics and quality.

    From Hide to Nubuck Leather:

    Preparation Stage

    The transformation of raw hides into Nubuck leather entails a multi-step process. In the preparation stage, hides are soaked in water to clean them and remove any remnants of flesh or hair. This soaking also rehydrates the hides, returning them to their natural supple state and preparing them for the next step: tanning.

    Tanning Stage

    The tanning stage involves treating the hides with chemicals to prevent decay and impart durability. For Nubuck, chrome tanning is typically used due to its speed and the soft, flexible leather it produces. The tanned hides, now called 'wet blue' due to the chromium salts used, are then ready for the next stage.

    Crusting Stage

    During the crusting stage, the 'wet blue' leather undergoes several procedures, including re-tanning, dyeing, and fat-liquoring, to enhance its properties. These processes can vary depending on the desired characteristics of the final Nubuck leather.

    Creation of Nubuck Leather: The Sanding Process

    Once the crusting process is complete, the hides are dried and then sanded or buffed on the grain side to achieve the signature Nubuck texture. The intensity of sanding determines the nap's length, with finer sanding producing a shorter nap and a more velvet-like feel. This process also lightens the leather's color, requiring further dyeing to achieve the desired shade.

    Distinctive Characteristics of Nubuck Leather

    Superior Durability: Due to its origin from top-grain leather, Nubuck leather exhibits a high degree of durability, often outlasting other types of leather and leather grades with proper care. This resilience is mainly due to the thickness of the material, which typically ranges between 1.2 to 2.0 millimeters.

    Exquisite Softness: One of the most desirable qualities of Nubuck leather is its incredibly soft, velvety texture, which lends a luxurious feel to items crafted from it. This characteristic not only enhances the user's tactile experience but also adds an aesthetic appeal that sets Nubuck leather apart.

    Effective Breathability: Despite its thickness, Nubuck leather exhibits excellent breathability, an attribute that enhances the comfort of items made from it. This breathability effectively regulates temperature and moisture, preventing the build-up of heat or sweat when used in clothing or footwear.

    High-end Aesthetic Appeal

    Nubuck leather's unique, plush appearance lends a sense of opulence and style to any item it graces. Whether utilized in fashion accessories, clothing, or furniture, Nubuck can elevate the aesthetic appeal of the product.

    Applications of Nubuck Leather

    Nubuck Leather in Luxury Fashion

    In this table below we will show the uses of Nubuck leather in luxury fashion by brand:

    Product Type Brand Product Name
    Handbags Prada Nubuck Leather Tote
    Wallets Gucci Nubuck Leather Bi-fold Wallet
    Jackets Armani Nubuck Leather Bomber Jacket
    Shoes Louboutin Nubuck Leather Loafers
    Phone Cases Gentcreate Luxury Nubuck Leather Phone Case

    Footwear and Accessories

    Nubuck's inherent qualities make it a sought-after material in the fashion industry, particularly in the production of footwear and accessories. Its durability, softness, and aesthetic appeal make it a perfect choice for luxury shoes, handbags, and wallets.


    In clothing, Nubuck leather offers a unique combination of style, comfort, and durability. Its use spans a range of items, from jackets to trousers, providing a luxurious feel and a sophisticated look.

    Caring for Nubuck Leather Products

    1. Routine Cleaning and Maintenance: Preserving Nubuck leather's pristine condition calls for regular cleaning using the right tools. A Nubuck cleaning cloth or brush can help remove dust and light surface dirt, while a Nubuck cleaning kit can tackle deeper, more stubborn stains. Using a Nubuck eraser can also be effective for removing small marks and spots.
    2. Protection and Preservation: Aside from cleaning, protecting Nubuck leather from potential damage is vital. A Nubuck protector spray forms a water-resistant barrier on the surface, shielding the leather from spills and stains. Furthermore, keeping Nubuck leather items away from direct sunlight or heat sources can prevent fading or drying out.
    3. Conditioning Nubuck Leather: Conditioning Nubuck leather helps maintain its suppleness and prevents drying and cracking. However, due to the leather's unique texture, standard leather conditioners may not be suitable. Instead, using a conditioner specifically designed for Nubuck leather is recommended.
    4. Storing Nubuck Leather Items: Proper storage of Nubuck leather items can prevent damage and prolong their lifespan. These items should be stored in a cool, dry, and airy space to avoid mold and mildew formation.

    Advantages and Disadvantages of Nubuck Leather

    The Benefits

    The advantages of Nubuck leather lie in its superior durability, exquisite softness, effective breathability, and high-end aesthetic appeal. These attributes make Nubuck a favored material in high-end fashion and luxury fashion accessories.

    The Drawbacks

    However, Nubuck leather does come with certain challenges. Its susceptibility to stains and water damage requires meticulous care and maintenance. Furthermore, its relatively high cost, due to the detailed production process, can be a limiting factor for some buyers.

    The Future of Nubuck Leather

    As sustainable and ethical practices gain momentum in the leather industry, the future of Nubuck leather will likely be influenced by these trends. Innovations in leather manufacturing, such as vegetable tanning and reduced water usage, may become more prevalent, contributing to a more sustainable future for Nubuck leather.

    Frequently Asked Questions about Nubuck Leather

  1. Is Nubuck leather real leather?
  2. Yes, Nubuck is real leather. It is made from the top grain of leather, sanded to create a soft, velvety surface.

  3. Is Nubuck better than leather?
  4. Nubuck is a type of leather, so comparing it to leather, in general, is not accurate. However, Nubuck offers a unique soft, velvety feel and aesthetic, which some people may prefer over other types of leather.

  5. What is the difference between Nubuck leather and leather?
  6. Nubuck leather is a specific type of leather, created by sanding the top grain of leather to achieve a smooth, surface. Leather, in general, refers to a wide range of materials made from animal hides.

  7. What is Nubuck leather vs suede?
  8. Nubuck is made from the outer side of leather, whereas suede is made from the inner side. Both have a smooth, texture, but Nubuck is generally more durable and thicker than suede.

  9. Is Nubuck leather good quality?
  10. Yes, Nubuck leather is considered high quality due to its cushy texture and durability.

  11. Does Nubuck last as long as leather?
  12. Nubuck, being a type of leather, can last as long as other types of leather if properly maintained. However, its soft-to-touch surface may be more susceptible to scratches and stains.

  13. Can you clean Nubuck with water?
  14. Water can be used to clean Nubuck, but it is recommended to use a damp cloth or a specialized Nubuck cleaner to avoid over-wetting the material and causing damage.

  15. Should I waterproof Nubuck?
  16. Yes, it is recommended to waterproof Nubuck to protect it from water damage and stains.

  17. Is Nubuck leather vegan?
  18. No, Nubuck is not vegan, as it is made from animal hides.

  19. Is Nubuck leather expensive?
  20. Nubuck leather can be more expensive than some other types of leather due to its unique texture and processing requirements.

  21. Is Nubuck leather hard to maintain?
  22. Nubuck requires special care to maintain its delicate surface. Regular cleaning and waterproofing are necessary to keep it in good condition.

  23. Is Nubuck leather cheaper?
  24. Nubuck leather can be more expensive than some other types of leather due to its unique texture and processing requirements.

  25. Does Nubuck age well?
  26. Nubuck can age well if properly maintained. Regular cleaning and waterproofing can help preserve its appearance and durability.

  27. What are the advantages and disadvantages of Nubuck leather?
  28. The main advantage of Nubuck leather is its unique soft texture and durability. Disadvantages include its susceptibility to stains, scratches, and the need for special care and maintenance.

  29. How do you take care of Nubuck leather?
  30. To care for nubuck leather, gently clean the surface with a vacuum cleaner and a brush attachment to remove dust and dirt. For shoes, use a nubuck brush. If heavily stained, use a "Nubuck eraser".

  31. Is Nubuck good for winter?
  32. Nubuck can be suitable for winter, but it requires proper care and waterproofing to protect it from moisture and salt stains.

  33. Does Nubuck get dirty?
  34. Yes, nubuck can get dirty due to its textured surface, which can trap dirt and dust.

  35. Is Nubuck leather good for summer?
  36. Nubuck leather can be suitable for summer, but it may require more frequent cleaning and care due to increased exposure to dirt, sweat, and moisture.

  37. How do you keep Nubuck leather waterproof?
  38. To waterproof nubuck leather, use a waterproofing spray specifically designed for nubuck or suede leather. Apply the spray and let it dry for a few minutes before wiping away the excess.

  39. How do you clean Nubuck without damaging it?
  40. Clean nubuck gently using a soft brush or vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment, and avoid using harsh chemicals or excessive water.

  41. Can you turn Nubuck into leather?
  42. Nubuck is a type of leather made from the top grain of the hide. It cannot be turned back into smooth leather once processed.

  43. Is Nubuck warm?
  44. Nubuck has insulating properties similar to other types of leather, making it moderately warm.

  45. What is the problem with nubuck leather?
  46. Nubuck leather can be more susceptible to stains, dirt, and damage due to its textured surface, and it requires regular care and maintenance.

  47. Is Nubuck stronger than suede?
  48. Nubuck is usually stronger and more durable than suede, as it is made from the top grain of the hide, while suede is made from the underside.


    Nubuck leather, with its rich history, unique qualities, and luxury appeal, truly stands out in the world of leathers. With proper care and maintenance, items made from Nubuck leather can provide lasting durability and comfort, testifying to the enduring allure of this remarkable material.