Velvet, suede, and velour are all types of nap fabric. Nap means that the fibers stand up from the fabric, giving it a fuzzy surface. Put simply, the nap is the texture of the fabric and describes which way the fibers align. If you run your hand across the fabric with a nap, the fibers will feel smooth. If you run your hand against the nap, the fibers will feel rough.

Nap fabrics look and feel luxurious, which is why they are often used in high-end clothing and upholstery. They are also more difficult to clean than other types of fabric because the fibers can be easily damaged. The way the fibers are looped determines which fabric it is: velvet, velour, corduroy, suede…

What is Suede?

Suede is a type of leather that is made from the underside of animal skin. It has a napped finish and a soft, velvety feel. Suede is usually made from deer, lamb, or goat skin, but can also be made from pigskin or cowhide.

The term “suede” originates from the French term “gants de Suede,” which translates to “gloves of Sweden.” During the Romantic period in France in the late 18th Century, imports of Swedish leather were very highly popular among the French nobility. Instead of using the rough leather made from the outer layers of the hide, the artisans of Sweden invented a way to use the soft, inner skin of hides to create incredibly soft gloves for women.

cowhide suede

For several decades, the use of suede stayed confined to gloves but eventually, European artisans recognized the possibilities for other uses, and suede started to be used in items from jackets, shoes, bags, and more.

What is Velvet?

Velvet is a type of fabric that has a short, densely packed pile. It is made from silk, cotton, or synthetic fibers and has a smooth, lustrous surface. Velvet can be solid-colored or patterned.

Linen fabrics with looped pile were first made thousands of years ago in Egypt. In 2000 BC Cairo was a production hub of velvet, alongside Iraq, creating the textile for royalty and the very wealthy. The technique of creating silk velvet is a more recent development. It probably originated in China and appears to have been developed by at least the thirteenth century, if not earlier. The term velvet describes fabric with a pile made of silk thread; the structure of this fabric is created by warps that are drawn up over rods or wires to make the loops. This is part of the weaving process, and the looped pile is integral to the structure of the fabric. As the weaving progresses, the rods are removed. The resulting loops may be cut to form a dense pile, or left uncut. As well as being very time-consuming, this technique requires a larger quantity of thread in the warp than flat textiles.

velvet fabric

Types of Velvet Fabric

Like most types of textiles, the majority of velvet sold today comes from China. And when it comes to variety, the following types are the most common:

  • Crushed velvet. The crushed appearance of this fabric results from twisting wet velvet or pressing down on the textile in various directions. The crushed pattern and shine lend a unique texture to the material. Crushed velvet is a popular fabric used in upholstery for furniture, pillows, drapes, and curtains. It typically requires backing to reinforce the fabric and make it more stable.
  • Panne velvet. Panne velvet is a type of crushed velvet for which heavy pressure is applied to the material to push the pile in one direction. The same pattern can appear in knit fabrics like velour, which is usually made from polyester and is not true velvet.
  • Micro velvet. Micro velvet is a type of velvet with extremely short pile. It shares many characteristics with regular velvet, but the shorter length of the piles gives it a more velvety appearance and feel. Micro velvet is often used for clothing and upholstery applications where a softer, more luxurious feel is desired.
  • Cotton velvet. Cotton is a breathable fabric, which makes it ideal for making velvet. Cotton also stretches; it’s ideal for making upholstery and sewing clothing.
  • Silk velvet. The most traditional material in the making of velvet. Silk is lush, soft, and cool to the touch.
  • Rayon and nylon mix. Rayon and nylon are synthetic and more affordable than cotton or silk. They are also lightweight and maintain most of the desirable qualities of velvet.

Where is velvet used?

Velvet feels as good as it looks, unlike some other interior décor pieces. Velvet’s softness is its most attractive quality. This fabric is mostly used in products where it’s positioned close to the skin. Since velvet has a unique visual appeal, it’s used for curtains, throw pillows, and home decors. Velvet is also used for making clothes, mostly the items like blazers, dresses, and skirts that need a little extra drape.

What is Velour?

Velour, or velours, is a type of plush, knitted fabric that has a raised pile and a soft, velvety feel. It is usually made of cotton, but it can be made from synthetic fibers such as polyester or nylon. Velour can be solid-colored or patterned.

There is a lot of speculation about the origins of velour, though the name itself is a French word for ‘velvet’. Originally velvet took such a long time to craft that it was incredibly expensive, making it a very high-end luxury good. Mass manufacturing of velvet’s cheaper counterpart, velour, began back in the 1840s with the production of cloth bolts. With increasing popularity, a variety of velour became available to the market, which unique finishes such as cotton, wool, ribbed, and polyester.

velour fabric

Are Suede and Velour the same thing?

No, suede and velour are not the same. Suede is a type of leather that is made from the underside of animal skin, while velour is a type of plush, knitted fabric that has a raised pile. Both fabrics have a soft, velvety feel, but they are not interchangeable. The confusion comes from the fact that the term ‘velour’ can also refer to a rough natural leather sometimes called velour leather.

Suede vs Velvet – What’s the difference?

Both suede and velvet have a soft, velvety feel, but there are some key differences between the two fabrics. Suede is made from the underside of animal skin, while velvet is made from silk, cotton, or synthetic fibers. Suede has a napped finish and a softer feel, while velvet has a smooth, lustrous surface. Velvet can be solid-colored or patterned, while suede is usually only available in solid colors. Finally, suede is more durable than velvet and can be used for a variety of different applications, including shoes, while velvet is best suited for clothing or upholstery.

Where is Suede used?

Suede is a popular choice for shoes, furniture, and clothing. It is also used for a variety of other applications, including upholstery, bookbinding, and wallets.

velour tracksuit

Velvet vs Velour

Velvet and velour are very similar, but they are not the same. They are not only being made from very different fibers, but the weaving process does differ slightly as well. When weaving velour, the yarns are knitted into loops to make a pile weave, and then the small loops are cut off which causes the fabric to lose its sheen. Velvet is actually woven on a special loom that weaves two thicknesses of the fibers at the same time. The two pieces are cut apart which creates the tufted soft pile effect with the layers being wound onto separate rolls.

Before industrial power looms were available, creating velvet was very complicated and time-consuming, which contribute to its higher price compared to the all natural silk fibers. Because it is knitted, velour is traditionally much stretchier than velvet, but developments in the textile industry mean that velvet can be used for almost all the same applications these days – from curtains to clothing or upholstery.