Suede vs. Leather Birkenstock: What’s the Difference?

Birkenstock is known to have been using several types of leather in producing its timelessly stylish and comfortable footwear collections. Two of the most sought-after leather types are suede and genuine leather.

Slight differences between suede and leather Birks are apparent in their creation, appearance, and texture. The former is buffed and has a velvet finish, while the latter is untreated and has a smooth grainy surface. Also, suede is thinner and comfier to wear out of the box but more prone to damage compared to leather.

If you want to know more about these differences, I have discussed them in detail. More so, I have enumerated the best suede and leather Birkenstocks in town. You have to check ‘em out.

After you reach the end of this article, I am sure you’ll make a well-thought decision. Do not waste a second now, and start scrolling!

Suede Birkenstock Explained

Are you eyeing a high-end suede pair to match your splendid outfit ensemble? You would not want to skip this section because I have divulged all about suede Birkenstocks. 


Suede is a type of split leather. Genuine leather from animals is split, and its inner layer is used to produce suede. The upper surface of this material is scrapped so that it can transform into a velvety texture.

Birkenstock uses suede leather in its upper straps as well as in its footbeds. The material is very soft and comfortable, ideal for those who would like a pair that is easy to break in.

However, one disadvantage shoe enthusiasts point out is that suede leather is thinner than other leather types. Given this, the material is more prone to damage.


One of the distinctive features of suede leather is its fuzzy and velvety surface. Most leather types have grainy and smooth textures, unlike suede. Mainly, suede Birkenstocks are very much comfortable due to the breathability and flexibility of the leather material used in their strap. 

The most comparable leather material to suede is nubuck. Both suede and nubuck are types of split leather. They undergo a similar process of buffing. However, the former is made of the inner part of the skin, while the latter takes the outer layer. 

The only difference is that nubuck has a thicker surface than suede. But apart from that, nubuck and suede similarly feature velvety and fuzzy textures. 

Best-selling Models

If you search for a suede pair on Birkenstock’s official website, you’ll see hundreds of options. Arizona and its descendant, Arizona Shearling, are two of the most sought-after suede pairs.  

Particularly, Arizona in taupe and Arizona Shearling in black are on top of the list. These colors are very versatile and minimal, perfect for those who do not want a too attention-grabbing pair. 

For a closed-toe option, opt for Boston Soft Footbed or Boston Shearling. These classic pairs are most compatible with smart casual or casual attires.

Apart from the models mentioned above, you should also check out Lugano and Siena if you are looking for a crisscrossing slip-on. The former looks very masculine, while the latter has a girly style. 


Most suede Birkenstock models can be purchased at an affordable price. However, there are some which can really be expensive. The cost of suede Birks ranges from $135 to $230. 

Arizona and Arizona Shearling are priced at $125 and $160, respectively. On the other hand, Boston in soft footbed version can be obtained at 155 while Boston Shearling is at $170.

Lastly, Lugano can be obtained at $145, while Siena is at $125. Siena models can be bought at a lower price because they’re on sale. You better not miss out!

Leather Birkenstock Explained

Generally, leather is mainly the most used material in creating Birkenstocks. As previously mentioned, there are many other leather varieties that the brand utilizes. But for this article, let us focus on natural leather. 


Leather, as we all know, is made of animal skin. The most common animal hides that are used to produce leather are goats, cows, buffalo, deer, or sheep. Given this, leather is considered a natural material.

To avoid decomposition, these hides are tanned naturally, and the tanning process greatly affects the fibers. The changed protein structure of this raw skin will, later on, reveal an incredibly durable and flexible substance: leather.


Apart from the said tanning process, Birkenstock leaves natural leather untreated. Thus, you can see that the brand’s leather uppers showcase unique patterns and smooth textures. 

If you are looking for a perfectly decent pair, a natural leather Birkenstock may be for you. The material’s structure appears very sleek; apart from that, it is easier to clean and maintain than its suede counterpart! 

More so, genuine leather has a thickness ranging between 2.8 and 3.2 millimeters. This greatly contributes not just to the flexibility and durability of the pair but also to its breathability.

Best-selling Models

Milano, Gizeh, and Franca in natural leather are very popular these days. These models are very easy to wear. They are best for casual wear, but you can pair them with your favorite dresses or smart attires due to their classic appearance.

Arizona, Madrid, and Gizeh in big buckle versions are also worth checking out! For closed-toe options, opt for Tokio Super-grip, Boston, and Buckley. These leather pairs will suit your minimalist look.


Just like Suede, many natural leather models are affordable. Moreover, some are a bit pricier than other leather types. The price range for leather Birkenstocks is from $90 to $270.

The most expensive leather pair is Arizona Croco Navy. On the other hand, the cheapest would be Madrid and Gizeh in Big Buckle, as well as Buckley and Franca. Boston is priced at $230, while Tokio Super-grip is at $150.

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

One of the similarities between suede and leather Birkenstocks is their price range. Both offer affordable options, but at the same time, there are some which are really expensive. Also, both are comfortable, durable, flexible, and breathable. 

They mainly differ in creation. The surface of the split hide is treated to produce suede, while natural leather is left untreated, just dyed or tanned.

In terms of appearance, suede has a distinct velvet and fuzzy texture. On the other hand, natural leather Birkenstocks have a smooth and grainy surface. Additionally, the latter is thicker than the former.

Leather Birkenstock’s upper straps are easier to maintain and clean than suede. More so, they are less sensitive to moisture, unlike suede. But remember that both materials are not entirely waterproof.

Between Suede and Leather Birkenstocks, which is comfier?

Due to being a split leather type, suede is deemed to be thinner than genuine leather. Some contend that suede is more prone to damage than other pairs with natural leather uppers. 

Although one advantage suede Birkenstocks are known for is their high comfort level, even when worn out of the box. Compared to the thicker natural leather uppers, suede is easier to break in.

Natural leather can cause your feet some hassles, such as break-in blisters and uncomfy feels. However, it is worth noting that it’s just a phase! In the long run, leather Birks will conform to the shape of your feet and fit very comfortably. 

Which is the better Birks for travelers?

Leather Birkenstocks are popular among travelers. Once the break-in period has ended, a natural leather pair becomes hugging and comfortable, perfect for long-distance walks or adventures.

If you are searching for a travel buddy, leather Birkenstocks with back straps may be the one for you. If you think so, opt to buy a Milano or Tokio Super-grip leather pair. 

The appearance and texture of suede Birkenstocks may not be suitable for traveling due to the fact that they are susceptible to moisture. However, if you are looking for a water-resistant pair, you may check out Birkenstock’s EVA collection.

Which is more fashionable?

I would say that leather Birkenstock’s versatility is stylish for many people. This is because the minimal and classic look of leather Birks can match any outfit you can think of.

Although, this depends on your style preferences. If you think you can rock a look with a pair of suede Birkenstocks, get one pair and flex them up! The velvet and rustic look of suede leather Birkenstocks may match your aura.

Suede vs. Leather Birks, Final Thoughts

And that’s it! We’re now at the end of this suede and leather discussion. I am hoping that the information I shared with you is enough to answer all the questions you have in mind.

If you’re still in doubt, you have to give yourself some more time to contemplate. Maybe, neither suede or leather is the one for you. But you don’t need to worry because there are other leather types that Birkenstock offers. Try to check ‘em out!

Related Articles