Oiled vs. Suede Birkenstock: Which is Better?

Torn between the slightly shiny-smooth oiled leather and the velvety-soft suede leather Birkenstocks? I understand the confusion because these are two of the best leather materials used by the brand. 

Birk’s oiled leather uppers appear waxy and greasy but feel smooth upon wearing. This material comes from tanneries, making it very resistant and sustainable. On the other hand, suede has a fuzzy and velvety outer layer. Suede upper straps are very breathable. Some say that suede pairs are easier to break in than others.

Oiled and suede leather uppers have always had a place in the hearts of Birkenstock wearers. These leather materials just look very timeless and elegant. More so, they are very durable and long-lasting!

If you are having difficulty selecting between oiled and suede Birkenstocks, this article is especially for you! Continue reading to identify which leather Birks you should buy and take home. 

Oiled Birkenstock Explained

That slightly satin-looking oiled leather Birkenstock you saw your friend wearing during your get-together is a classic Birk piece. If you are looking forward to having your own pair, this section is worth the read!


Birkenstock either adds an oily or waxy grease coating to its fine-grain leather in producing oiled pairs. The layer reveals a very good-looking two-tone effect in the leather upper.

Note that this layering process is not only for mere aesthetics. The brand adds oil and wax to improve the material’s water resistance and durability. This is why compared to suede; oiled leathers are less sensitive to moisture.

Also, notice that oiled leather uppers have an untreated surface. Unlike other leather types, such as nubuck and suede, oiled leathers are not buffed. That’s why it looks naturally smooth on the outside. 


Oiled leather Birkenstocks are discernible for their waxy or oily finish. The shine on its outer layer is not too much. Although, it is very eye-catching. 

Their natural patina and creases develop upon multiple wears, making oiled Birks stand out. These features are what most Birkenstock consumers are looking forward to!

Generally speaking, patina is an indication of high quality. The older the leather is, the better patina patterns flourish. Patina just gives unique character to the shoes and personality to their wearer. 

Top-selling Oiled Birkenstocks

Topping the list of the most wanted oiled leather Birkenstocks is none other than timeless Arizona in the soft footbed.  Arizona is ideal for you if you are looking for a versatile pair perfect for your errand day!

This dual-strapped slip-on in oiled leather is available in both men’s and women’s sizes. Its upper material has a metal buckle that allows for adjustments. 

For a closed-toe option, Boston in oiled leather is also a must-try! Take note that this model is also available in the soft-footbed version. Experience no break-in hassles upon your first wear. 

For exotic-looking oiled leather Birks, new models such as Milano Rugged, Marton, and Lugano are also worth checking out. 


Arizona Soft Footbed in oiled leather is priced at $145, while Boston Soft Footbed is at $155. The non-soft footbed version of Arizona is less expensive and can be bought at $130. 

The newly introduced pairs, such as Milano Rugged and Marton are much more expensive than the models mentioned above. They can be purchased at a whopping $170. 

These are not surprising because leather Birkenstocks are generally pricy compared to other brands. But hey, their market price is very reasonable because of the premium-quality materials that the brand utilizes!

Suede Birkenstock Explained

If I’m asked what vibe a suede Birkenstock gives off, I’ll say fluffiness and coziness. The outer layer of suede leather uppers is distinct from oiled leather, and here’s why!


Suede leather is from the inner layer of an animal’s skin. Buffing the leather’s inner portion is necessary to produce suede’s soft and velvet texture. This is similar to creating nubuck. 

The upper grain is scrapped, revealing the napped underside of the skin. Due to its treated thinner surface, some say that suede is more prone to damage. Suede is also sensitive to moisture. 

Although many reviews emphasize that the material is very comfortable when worn out of the box, compared to other leather types. This is an advantage for people who do not like the thought of having break-in blisters. 


Suede Birkenstocks appear fuzzy and soft. This is due to the closely packed short hairs on its outer layer. The suede leather used by the brand is also naturally dyed and tanned. That’s why varying colors are available. 

Known for their flexibility and breathability, suede leather Birkenstocks are also worth the hype! This leather type is very comfortable to wear. Moreover, it is incredibly relaxing for the feet. 

Top-selling Suede Birkenstocks

Arizona has always been the crowd favorite. But this time, it leveled up! With Arizona Shearling, the classic model has been redesigned. It is now rising as one of the top-selling suede Birkenstocks in the brand’s database.

Boston Shearling as well is getting hyped up by the fashion community. The Shearling collection is perfect for cold weather or winter. Arizona and Boston Shearling even come with furs!

Birkenstock also offers sneakers made of suede leather which is the Bend Low. You can try Kyoto, Lugano, or Buckley if you want something uncommon. There are also wedge heels for women: Glenda and Namica.


Arizona Shearling is priced at $160, while Boston is at $170. These are more expensive than its counterpart in the oiled leather collection. One of the reasons I can think of is suede’s special surface treatment. 

Bend Low, Kyoto, and Buckley are both obtainable for $150, while Lugano’s price range is between $87 and $145. On the other hand, Glenda is priced at $84, while Namica is at $145. 

What are the similarities and differences between Oiled and Suede Birks?

Similarly, oiled and suede leather are two very prominent leather materials Birkenstock uses in producing their pairs. However, one key difference is that more suede Birkenstock models are available compared to oiled ones. 

In terms of appearance, oiled leather has a smooth and sheen finish, unlike suede which looks velvety and matte. Oiled Birkenstocks have thicker upper straps, which are more likely challenging to break in, unlike suede Birks. 

Upon checking their price ranges, it seems that oiled leathers are higher than suede. Although most models are pricy, oiled leathers are less sensitive to moisture in comparison to suede leather Birkenstocks. 

Overall, both leather types are durable and resistant. They are also stretchable as they adapt to the shape of your feet in the long run. 

Between Oiled and Suede Birkenstocks, which is the more comfortable pair?

Many reviews attest that suede Birkenstocks are more comfortable to wear than other thick leather materials, most especially when worn out of the box. Although, of course, every new shoe needs to be worn in. 

Suede, compared to oiled, is much easier to break in due to its scrapped, thinner surface. However, some prefer oiled leather Birkenstocks because they fit their feet best after some time.

Additionally, oiled leather Birkenstock molds to your feet’s contours after the break-in period. When this process has ended, you’ll surely reap a great reward: a high level of comfort. 

Which is the better Birks for travelers?

I would say that oiled leather Birkenstocks are the better pairs for travelers. This is because they are less sensitive to moisture and water than most of their suede counterparts.

Although you must know that leather is not meant to be left submerged in water for a long time. Thus, even oiled leather Birkenstocks are not waterproof. If it is exposed to too much water, it can get drier and more prone to cracks.

If you are looking for a completely water-resistant pair, try out Birkenstock’s synthetic models. Arizona, Madrid, and Gizeh have ethyl vinyl acetate (EVA) versions!

Which is more fashionable?

The answer to this question depends on the fashion style of an individual! Some would greatly prefer the feminine and subtle look of suede Birkenstocks, but some would choose an oiled leather upper’s bold and daring appearance.

I think that oiled leather Birkenstocks are more versatile than suede. The former can be paired with any casual attire, but the latter can only suit selected outfits. In addition, velvet-textured footwear is best for winter fashion.

On the other hand, oiled leather Birkenstocks can be worn at any time. They can also be paired with your winter suits. You just have to wear some thick socks underneath!

Oiled vs. Suede Birks, Final Thoughts

There are advantages and disadvantages in buying a pair of oiled or suede leather Birkenstocks, which I have already mentioned in the preceding sections. You must keep these things in mind when selecting the best footwear material. 

To identify the better leather type, know what you need and want first, before anything else. In some of the mentioned aspects, oiled leather is above suede. While in some, the latter beats the former. 

Regardless, both are high-quality and sustainable! Invest in good footwear, and it will surely pay the best interest.

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