George Stimpson

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What is suede?

Suede (pronounced swayed) is merely French for Sweden. In French, gloves made of kidskin were called gants de Suède, "Swedish gloves." Originally the leather used in suede gloves was skin tanned with tannic acid or formaldehyde and with the flesh side rubbed into a nap on an emery wheel. Whether suede was originally a trade name, or glove leather was so called because it was first made in Sweden, is not known. The term appears to be comparatively modern in English. Now a closely knitted fabric, napped and shorn to imitate suede leather and used in making gloves and handbags, is known as suede cloth or suedine. Suede is also now applied to a brown, reddish-yellow color.