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Suede vs. Chamois — What's the Difference?

Edited by Tayyaba Rehman — By Maham Liaqat — Updated on April 24, 2024
Suede is a type of leather with a napped surface, made from underside of animal skin, used in clothing and accessories. Chamois is a soft, pliable leather originally made from the Chamois antelope, now from sheepskin, used for cleaning and polishing.
Suede vs. Chamois — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Suede and Chamois


Key Differences

Suede is known for its soft, velvety texture, created by sanding the underside of animal skin, typically cow, deer, or lamb. It's prized in fashion for its texture and aesthetic appeal, used in jackets, shoes, bags, and furniture. Chamois, on the other hand, refers to a type of leather that is extremely soft and absorbent, originally sourced from the Chamois antelope but now more commonly made from sheepskin or lambskin. It's specially treated to create its unique properties, making it ideal for cleaning applications, such as drying cars and polishing glass, due to its non-abrasive, lint-free nature.
The processing of suede involves the inner layers of animal hides, which are abraded to produce a napped surface. This results in a material that is flexible and breathable, yet sensitive to moisture and difficult to clean. Chamois leather, meanwhile, undergoes a rigorous tanning process, often with fish oil, which imparts its exceptional softness and absorbency. This treatment also makes chamois resistant to degradation by water and chemicals, enhancing its utility in cleaning and drying tasks.
Suede's aesthetic and functional qualities make it a popular choice for high-end and casual fashion. Its texture adds depth and interest to garments and accessories but requires careful maintenance to preserve its appearance. Chamois leather is less about visual appeal and more about functionality, celebrated for its ability to clean without leaving streaks or lint, which is why it's a staple in automotive care and for cleaning delicate surfaces.
The main distinction lies in their use; suede is primarily a fashion material, offering style and comfort, while chamois serves a practical role in maintenance and cleaning industries. Despite their differences, both materials require proper care to maintain their qualities, with suede needing protection from moisture and stains, and chamois benefiting from regular washing to remove dirt and oils.
Suede and chamois cater to different needs and markets. Suede enriches the fashion and design world with its luxurious texture, whereas chamois is indispensable in the cleaning sector for its superior absorption and gentle cleaning properties.

Comparison Chart


Underneath of animal skin, typically cow, deer, lamb
Originally Chamois antelope, now mainly sheepskin or lambskin


Soft, velvety nap
Extremely soft, smooth, absorbent


Fashion (clothing, shoes, accessories), furniture
Cleaning, drying (automotive care, windows)


Sensitive to moisture, requires careful cleaning
Washable, benefits from regular cleaning to maintain absorbency

Production Process

Abraded to produce a napped surface
Tanned, often with fish oil, for softness and absorbency

Compare with Definitions


Known for its breathability and flexibility.
Suede shoes conform comfortably to the shape of the foot.


Soft, pliable leather used for cleaning and polishing.
He used a chamois cloth to dry his car without leaving streaks.


A type of leather with a soft, napped surface.
The designer opted for suede for the new fall boot collection for its luxurious texture.


Made from sheepskin or lambskin, treated for absorbency.
The chamois cloth absorbed all the water, leaving the surface dry.


Material used in fashion for its aesthetic appeal.
Her suede jacket was perfect for the chilly evening.


Requires washing to remove dirt and maintain effectiveness.
After cleaning the windows, she rinsed the chamois out thoroughly.


Requires special care to maintain appearance.
He used a suede protector spray to guard against water damage.


Non-abrasive, ideal for delicate surfaces.
Photographers use chamois to clean lenses gently.


Sensitive to moisture and stains.
The rain left spots on her suede handbag.


Originally from the Chamois antelope, now more commonly from sheepskin.
Traditional chamois leather was harder to come by than the current sheepskin versions.


Suede (pronounced (SWAYD)) is a type of leather with a napped finish, commonly used for jackets, shoes, shirts, purses, furniture, and other items. The term comes from the French gants de Suède, which literally means "gloves from Sweden".Suede is made from the underside of the animal skin, which is softer and more pliable than the outer skin layer, though not as durable.


The chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra) is a species of goat-antelope native to mountains in Europe, from west to east, including the Cantabrian Mountains, the Pyrenees, the Alps and the Apennines, the Dinarides, the Tatra and the Carpathian Mountains, the Balkan Mountains, the Rila - Rhodope massif, Pindus, the northeastern mountains of Turkey, and the Caucasus. The chamois has also been introduced to the South Island of New Zealand.


Leather with the flesh side rubbed to make a velvety nap
Suede shoes


Either of two species of agile goat antelopes (Rupicapra rupicapra or R. pyrenaica) of mountainous regions of Europe and western Asia, having upright horns with backward-hooked tips.


Leather with a soft napped surface.


A soft leather made from the hide of these antelopes or of other animals such as deer or sheep.


Fabric made to resemble suede.


A piece of such leather or of a fabric or material made to resemble it, used as a polishing or drying cloth or in shirts.


A type of soft leather, made from calfskin, with a brushed texture to resemble fabric, often used to make boots, clothing and fashion accessories.


(shăm′wä, shămwä′, shămē) A moderate to grayish yellow.


Made of suede.


A short-horned goat antelope native to mountainous terrain in southern Europe; Rupicapra rupicapra.


(transitive) To make (leather) into suede.


The traditional colour of chamois leather.


(transitive) To finish (fabric) by abrasion, giving it a fibrous surface.


An absorbent cloth used for cleaning and polishing, formerly made of chamois leather.


Swedish glove leather, - usually made from lambskins tanned with willow bark. Also used adjectively; as, suede gloves.


(cycling) A padded insert which protects the groin from the bicycle saddle.


Leather with a napped surface




A fabric made to resemble suede leather


(transitive) To clean with a chamois leather cloth.


A small species of antelope (Rupicapra tragus), living on the loftiest mountain ridges of Europe, as the Alps, Pyrenees, etc. It possesses remarkable agility, and is a favorite object of chase.


A soft leather made from the skin of the chamois, or from sheepskin, etc.; - called also chamois leather, and chammy or shammy leather. See Shammy.


A soft suede leather formerly from the sheep of the chamois antelope but now from sheepskin


Hoofed mammal of mountains of Eurasia having upright horns with backward-hooked tips

Common Curiosities

Why is suede considered luxurious?

Suede is considered luxurious due to its soft, velvety texture and the detailed process required to produce it.

What is suede used for?

Suede is used in clothing, shoes, accessories, and furniture for its soft texture and aesthetic appeal.

What makes chamois ideal for cleaning?

Chamois is extremely soft, absorbent, and non-abrasive, making it perfect for cleaning and drying without damaging surfaces.

Is chamois only used for automotive purposes?

While commonly used for automotive care, chamois is also excellent for cleaning windows, mirrors, and other delicate surfaces.

Can chamois leather be used dry?

Chamois leather is most effective when slightly damp, as this enhances its absorbency and prevents scratching.

What's the difference in maintenance between suede and chamois?

Suede requires careful cleaning and protection from moisture, while chamois needs regular washing to maintain its absorbency and cleanliness.

How is suede different from regular leather?

Suede is made from the underside of animal skin and has a napped surface, unlike regular leather, which is smoother and made from the outer skin layer.

Can suede get wet?

Suede is sensitive to moisture and can get damaged if wet, requiring protective treatments to guard against water.

How do you care for a chamois leather?

Chamois leather should be washed regularly to remove dirt and oils, using mild soap and water, and air dried.

What is the origin of chamois leather?

Chamois leather originally came from the Chamois antelope found in Europe, though it is now mostly made from sheepskin or lambskin.

What are the environmental concerns with suede and chamois?

The production of both suede and chamois involves animal hides, raising concerns about animal welfare and the environmental impact of tanning processes.

Why is chamois recommended for drying cars?

Chamois is recommended for drying cars because it is highly absorbent, leaves no streaks or lint, and is gentle on the paint.

How is suede produced?

Suede is produced by abrading the underside of animal hides to create a soft, napped texture.

Can you repair damaged suede?

Minor damage to suede can often be repaired with special brushes and cleaners, but severe damage may be irreparable.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Maham Liaqat
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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