If you’re looking for a forever jacket, we implore you to consider suede. Leather might be everywhere right now, but its low-key cousin comes without the high-shine gloss and dramatic connotations (think, The Matrix, Blade and, er, Grease). It's more casual, always cool and only gets better with age.
They’re similar, don’t get us wrong. But the big differentiator is that the best suede jackets are made from the matte underside of the animal skin, rather than the shinier top. It’s then brushed to create a tactile nap – which gives it that luxurious, velvety finish.
Luigi Fila, head designer at Italian brand Valstar – known for its suede jackets since 1911 – is obviously a big fan. “It’s a beautiful, rich material,” he says. “It’s also incredibly versatile, much more so than leather; it can be easily dressed up or down and mixes very naturally with most fabrics and textures.”
He means it: a suede jacket is truly trans-seasonal. It’ll work alongside wooly knits just as well as a breezy seersucker shirt. And what about when one jacket is simply not enough? “Suede is lightweight and supple, so it's easy to layer under another coat.”
Suede is one of those materials that's never out of style, but this season, it was a key part of almost every collection. For Tom Ford's autumn/winter 2021 presentation, models were styled in Seventies-inspired jackets, partially unzipped to reveal tonal orange and tobacco roll-necks beneath. Paul Smith also went big on colour: his equally as retro aviators were dyed in inky-blue hues and trimmed with plush shearling. Meanwhile, Fendi kept things muted and modern with dusty taupe overshirts and nubuck duffle coats.
So, it’s versatile, you get the gist. But we’ll throw in a few examples of very different men, all rocking the suede jacket in their own way, to hammer it home. Keith Richards was partial to a plum trucker – always paired with black jeans– in the Rolling Stones' Sixties heyday. Steve McQueen’s tan racer-style suede jacket in Le Mans (1971) was revered for its driver-inspired throat latch and neat button fastenings. Fast forward to the 21st century, and David Beckham has worn every style of suede jacket, from a slick black bomber, to khaki Harrington and tan-collared versions (one of which we even spotted on Jeff Goldblum).
Is a suede jacket a good investment?
If that sounds like a lot of faff, then hear us out. The short answer is, yes. Buttery suede will only soften with age and develop a rich patina.
Make sure you to choose the right design, of course, so it can get to that stage. Ask yourself a few questions before you buy, and think long term. Is it a trend-led piece? Will you tire of it by next season? Does it slot easily into your existing wardrobe? Will you really wear a souvenir jacket when you’re 50? If you’re not sure where to start, check out our edit of the best men's suede jackets to buy now:
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