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Leather for furniture, bags, belts, etc

Kent Wang

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Is most leather used for non-shoe purposes also corrected grain? Are there any tips to identify quality leather for furniture? How about in automobiles? Most leather seats in cars seem to not even be as nice as mid-grade leather furniture.

For briefcases and wallets? AlanC posted a while ago about his bag made of belt leather. What exactly is belt leather? How does it compare to bridle leather? Are those types always non-corrected grain?
 

LabelKing

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Certain cars use Connolly leather, which is quite high quality. Also the construction of car seats seems to have changed; they used to use some sort of hemp. Belt leather, I suppose is belting leather, which was used for the belts of old machines. Hartmann has a line of it:
Bridle leather is tougher in terms of feel, texture, and look as belting leather tends to wear fairly easy. I don't know about corrected grain.
 

countdemoney

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Originally Posted by Kent Wang
Is most leather used for non-shoe purposes also corrected grain? Are there any tips to identify quality leather for furniture? How about in automobiles? Most leather seats in cars seem to not even be as nice as mid-grade leather furniture.

For briefcases and wallets? AlanC posted a while ago about his bag made of belt leather. What exactly is belt leather? How does it compare to bridle leather? Are those types always non-corrected grain?


Top-quality has different meanings for different purposes when it comes to leather. The thing you should check for today is tanning. Much of todays leather is cheaply tanned. If you don't already know, the easiest way to tell is to scratch a swatch of the leather with your fingernail or something else sharp. A poorly tanned piece will show the scratch as almost white. The dye is deeper with other tanning methods and the scratch will only show as an abrasion. I'll see if I can post some pictures for you later.
 

itsstillmatt

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Originally Posted by LabelKing
Certain cars use Connolly leather, which is quite high quality. Also the construction of car seats seems to have changed; they used to use some sort of hemp.

Belt leather, I suppose is belting leather, which was used for the belts of old machines. Hartmann has a line of it:


Bridle leather is tougher in terms of feel, texture, and look as belting leather tends to wear fairly easy.

I don't know about corrected grain.


Poltrona Frau also makes terrific leathers for cars. I believe that they are used in Ferrari and Maserati. They also manufacture furniture.
 

LabelKing

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Originally Posted by iammatt
Poltrona Frau also makes terrific leathers for cars. I believe that they are used in Ferrari and Maserati. They also manufacture furniture.
In the Connolly shop in London, they used to sell Valextra.
 

Demeter

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Kent - it all depends on the maker. You'll be hard-pressed to find anything that's corrected-grain with makers like Hermes or Lattanzi. I should also note that leathers meant for specific purposes have their own qualities. Auto leather, including that of Connoly, for example, is dyed with pigments, as opposed to glove or shoe leather, which is drum-dyed in vats. This is why the leather you see even in a Bentley isn't as nice as that of a mid-range shoe. It has to be able to withstand considerable wear and tear. Furniture leather ("Upholstery leather") is done in almost the same way. Vegetable-tanned leather of the highest quality is dyed with oak bark. Crocodile leather often isn't so much dyed as it is polished with agate stone.

iammatt, I've never seen Paltrona Frau, but I've got a few swatches of Connolly leathers upstairs in their three ranges, and it is quite nice.
 

RJman

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Is Connolly leather actually used in automobiles any more? I believe that side of the business is defunct and it exists as a luxury goods brand now. I believe Aston Martin, for instance, uses Bridge of Weir leather now.
 

LabelKing

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Originally Posted by RJman
Is Connolly leather actually used in automobiles any more? I believe that side of the business is defunct and it exists as a luxury goods brand now. I believe Aston Martin, for instance, uses Bridge of Weir leather now.
Apparently the auto side went defunct in 2002 and their remaining stocks are being sold off, likely to auto repair shops and restoration places.
 

itsstillmatt

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Originally Posted by meaculpa
iammatt, I've never seen Paltrona Frau, but I've got a few swatches of Connolly leathers upstairs in their three ranges, and it is quite nice.

Frau belongs to the Charme group of companies. These include Acqua di Parma, Cappellini and Cassina. They are all major Italian luxury brands that are considered part of the "spirit of Italy". Frau leathers are used by many furniture and auto manufacturers. They are also the largest theater seating manufacturer in Europe.

The website for the furniture collection is www.poltronafrau.com


FWIW, I do have a pair of Lattanzi shoes that may be considered to be made from corrected grain leather. The leather is distressed and colored and then lacquereed with some finish. They are pretty cool looking.
 

Huntsman

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Originally Posted by LabelKing
Apparently the auto side went defunct in 2002 and their remaining stocks are being sold off, likely to auto repair shops and restoration places.

This is a shame. My old Jag is so upholstered, and twenty years later you open the door....and there's that smell. I kid you not, and barely believe it myself. And it still looks very good, very little visible wear anywhere in a car with 100k. Amazing stuff.

Regards,
Huntsman
 

imageWIS

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Originally Posted by LabelKing
Apparently the auto side went defunct in 2002 and their remaining stocks are being sold off, likely to auto repair shops and restoration places.

It did and they did. Truly sad. I was devastated when I heard the news, their leather processing was truly amazing and the quality for car interiors was unsurpassed. They were able to select and match better than anyone else...and their standards as to which hides made the cut and which didn't were incredibly scrutinizing, all of which made for incredible hides.

Jon.
 

imageWIS

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Originally Posted by Huntsman
This is a shame. My old Jag is so upholstered, and twenty years later you open the door....and there's that smell. I kid you not, and barely believe it myself. And it still looks very good, very little visible wear anywhere in a car with 100k. Amazing stuff.

Regards,
Huntsman


Proof positive that they don't build them like they used to (at least regarding the quality of the finished materials).

Jon.
 

summej2

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There are some upholstry (car and home) leathers that are full-grain and vegetable tanned. Spinneybeck is the best known (http://www.spinneybeck.com/). While it isn't the same thing that one would find even on a high-end pair of shoes, the application is quite different.
 

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