Tackling this common dancer’s headache can be challenging. Suede soles are the best material for gripping the floor, but can be one of the most difficult to work with. High quality professional dance shoes will have excellent suede, and this requires special care. Let’s take a look.
What Is Suede?
There are several words that people use to describe it. Fuzzy, fluffy, and velvety are some of them, but the actual word ‘suede’ is the French word for Sweden. Famed for winter glove manufacturing, the country bestowed this distinctive leather with its name. Suede is ‘undressed’, meaning that the usual leather manufacturing processes do not happen. Instead, the natural oils are left inside the hide. This increases the pliability, breathability, and – in the case of gloves – warmth. Suede is soft, thin, and highly valued.
Why Does Suede Make Good Professional Dance Shoe Material?
Suede is often thought of as being the best material for dance shoe soles and heels. The high fibre content and organic oils result in a surface that has an excellent balance of friction, traction, and slide. Good suede grips the floor, helping a professional dancer to control their moves. However, this comes at a cost. Suede is a delicate material, and its natural composition is vulnerable to dust, dirt, grease, and grime. When a suede sole is dancing in its natural habitat, it is most at risk.
How Can I Care For My Suede Sole?
Care involves keeping the material as natural as possible. This means that the fibres that give suede its distinctive fuzzy feel have to be regularly brushed. Special brushes with sharp bristles are required for this. This is because suede fibres easily become impacted, and it takes a stubborn brush to cut through the grease and grime. Doing this after every practice or performance will increase the lifespan of the suede sole, partly because well-maintained suede requires less intense brushing. Little and often is the golden rule.
For the brushing technique, simply hold the shoe and brush firmly away from you. The aim is to scoop out the gunk, so don’t be afraid of using a bit of weight to ensure a deep cleanse.
The quality of suede makes a big difference. Like any leather, there are quality gradients, and cheap suede will be a synthetic version of the intended product. It is not worth wasting time on substandard suede, as it disintegrates. Quality suede is pliable, yet tough. Ask your professional dance shoe manufacturer about the types of leather that they use.
For more information about suede soles or other dance shoe care, get in touch with Ray Rose by clicking here.
Image source: Wikimedia Commons