We should start by stating that nubuck is an extremely long-lasting leather. Durability stems from the fact that it’s made by sanding down the toughest cross-section of an animal’s hide: the outer layer (or, in scientific terms, the full-grain layer).
While nubuck’s hardiness is impossible to dispute, a few susceptibilities remain. For example, the act of sanding down full-grain leather to produce nubuck gives the material a high degree of permeability. This is both a pro and a con. Breathability is a big plus when it comes to clothing and footwear accessories. However, this porousness also makes nubuck more prone to oil and grease stains.
Sanding is what creates the fine fibres that constitute nubuck’s velvety surface, often referred to as the ‘nap’. However, the fineness of the nap does mean surface scratches are likely to appear after sustained use.
Lastly, the signature softness of the nap can gradually wane over time without semi-consistent care, becoming flat and shiny.
The good news is that caring for nubuck leather — and resolving the above issues — is fairly straightforward. Meaning there’s no reason why your favourite pair of nubuck loafers, boots or trainers can’t stay in pristine condition for a long time.