Brushed leather, also called nubuck, is a high-quality, durable type of leather that feels super-soft. While most brushed-leather styles are casual, brushed-leather boots make for a dressy look. Brushed-leather shoes can be a perfect match for some of your favorite outfits, but the material is very susceptible to scuffing and staining. This means extra time caring for brushed-leather shoes and giving more consideration about what places you go to when you're wearing them.
You're likely familiar with suede, another leather material. Brushed leather is similar. Both are soft to the touch and can feel almost like velvet. Manufacturers create this texture by buffing the leather, meaning they apply a slight abrasive technique. They use a better-quality buffing method on brushed leather than on suede, which gives brushed leather a finer texture by allowing the leather to keep its natural grain pattern.
Brushed leather not only has a finer texture than suede, it's more durable. Brushed leather is made from the exterior of the hide rather than the interior, and the exterior is tougher. That durability means you can be confident your shoes look great and last a long time -- if you take care of them.
Brushed leather doesn't have a natural protective barrier. That means these shoes are prone to getting dirty, stained and scuffed. You'll need to consider whether you want to risk ruining your shoes by wearing them to clubs or parties. Even if you love the way your feet look in brushed-leather shoes, your shoes won't be a pretty sight if somebody steps on your feet or bumps into you while holding a colorful beverage.
Brushed-leather protective substances are available that you can spray on your shoes. Normally, you'll apply this every six months. To keep your shoes looking spiffy otherwise, at least once a month gently rub the brushed leather with a brush or sponge specifically designed for this purpose. Brushing the shoes can resolve scuffs and keep the finish from becoming flat. The brush and sponge also can remove certain types of dried stains and minor soiling. Liquid cleaners for brushed leather are available for particularly stubborn stains. You work the shampoo into the stain with a cloth intended for brushed-leather cleaning and then wipe it away with a damp cloth.
It's unclear how brushed leather got the name nubuck. Dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster says the word has been around since at least 1926. It may have started as a combination of an alternative form of "new" added to the word "buck."