Back to the future with UltraSuede fabric on your furniture?

In the constant search for the new and better, furniture manufactures are looking again at ultra suede.  Ultra suede (used as a generic term for a type of fabric) became very popular some years ago and then faded from favor.  There were many reasons, but chief among them were the proliferation of cheap products calling themselves ultra suede.  Since the high quality versions have such desirable wear, comfort and color characteristics, manufacturers would like to include some offerings in their fabric options.

What does this mean for you? 

  1. Huge fabric color selection.
  2. Great wear quality.
  3. Comfort

Those are compelling arguments for this fabric.  But the million dollar question (as always) is “What do you, the consumer, think of the new UltraSuede?”

Comparison points for you to consider:

UltraSuede is actually a trademarked name for a particular manufacturing process owned exclusively by Toray Industries.  To better educate consumers to the differences between the legitimate Ultrasuede and the pretenders, Toray has issued the following information:

**Three categories of types of suede products
Non woven polyester, non woven nylon, woven/knitted polyester


1. Trademarked brand name, the original. Toray Industries, in the 70’s, invented the first microfiber. Apparel Designer Ralston introduced into the USA as the first machine washable/dryable designer garment. The benchmark product.
2. Manufacturing process is unduplicated and proprietary. Millions of tiny microscopic microfibers in each square inch. These microfibers are needle punched together. There are no threads. The microfibers are needle punched around an interior scrirn. This is one of the reasons why this product is so durable. Ultrasuede® microfibers are 50 times finer than cotton and about 200 times finer than wool. The suede look and feel are inherent and are achieved during the manufacturing process.
3. Exceeds all light fastness and color fastness testing. This product is used extensively in the automotive industry where color and light fastness testing have much higher standards.
4. Passes over 200,000 double rubs on durability upholstery test.  Residential standards are 15,000 double rubs, contract heavy duty standards arc 30,000 double rubs.
5. Machine washable and dryable.  Does not shrink, stretch, fade or pill.  Most any stain comes out with mild soap and water.


1. Only 1 or 2 other non woven micofibers in the market — no recognizably trademarked products.
2. Density per square inch of microfiber is substantially less due to inferior manufacturing process.  Usage of water jets to mingle fibers which cause force during process.  Less microfibers mean less durability, cleanability, etc.
3. Due to water jet process less surface effect and a dry feel, more like brushed cotton vs. suede.


1. Most microfiber in the market today is either woven or knitted.
2. A woven or knitted product does not have an inherent suede” feel.  To create a suede feel the product has to be sanded. This procedure immediately weakens the thread, leading to an inferior product. In most cases these products need to be backed for stability.
3. Poor durability and color fastness. Barely meets standards for residential furniture.
4. Product weight is about half of Ultrasuede®.


1. Nylon is inherently hydrophilic (absorbs water), can easily absorb its equal weight in water. Leaves water rings
2. Unstable color migration (crocking with other fabrics).
3. Permanent deformation under weight (stretches with poor recovery).
4. Extremely inferior abrasion resistance.