Design Notes: Suede for a Generation

Words by By Yu Mei
Photo by Lara Vrkic

The Teresa Tote in Coffee Suede.

When designer Georgia Curry received her Teresa Tote in coffee suede, she had a response that spoke to the timelessness of the material. Georgia said that one day, she would pass the bag on to her daughter.

The introduction of a limited run of suede in Autumn / Winter '23 signals a new era of design for Yu Mei, one that looks to infuse new, premium textures with our already well-loved shapes and styles.

Origins of Suede

In the 19th century, the Swedes learnt that a softer nap underneath was exposed by scarring back the underside of the animal skin. Though it was more delicate, suede allowed for a luxurious finish to those garments and accessories that were handled regularly.

The word itself comes from the French gants de Suede, which translates to gloves from Sweden.


Our coffee suede is sourced from a world-renowned tannery in Milan.

Aside from being in business for over a century, we’ve chosen to work with this supplier because its environmental performance has been certified through the Leather Working Group Gold Standard.

Though Jessie had experimented with a New Zealand made deer suede in the early days of Yu Mei, this Italian calf suede has an even softer hand feel.


We wanted to stay inside the subtle lines of luxury. That meant an earthy coffee brown was the pick of colourways to showcase suede this time of year. The light hits this material in a slightly different way to a firmer nappa finish, giving it that huggable and comforting appeal.


The nature of suede skins immediately lends itself to the drapey style of the Braidy and the Teresa.

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