Leather Choices

2/29/00 Leather Choices

I visited a leather wholesaler that was recommended by a friend in the fur business. In New York City, it helps to use all your contacts to get the best price, quality, and service. We all “know a guy, that has a line on….”

Before I went to the leather wholesaler, I called Frank at East Coast Auto Trim, my upholsterer. He gave me some pointers on what to look for when buying leather, and how much I would need. Connolly leather, the official Ferrari material, sells for approximately $7-8 dollars a square foot. My car has a lot of leather, and Frank thinks six hides will be used to cover the  four seats, two door panels, a rear deck, and a center console. One hide measures approximately 55 square feet, but not all of it can be effectively used because of the irregularities of an actual animal skin. My shopping assignment was to see how much I could save on another leather rather than Connolly, and still have the same quality. Connolly is a beautiful leather, but they are not the only company that farms great leather. My job was to see if I could find a suitable replacement.

On a street lined with wholesale leather and fur businesses, I found the address I was looking for. The owner showed me some samples and explained that although he has sold leather to other auto upholsterers, his leather is not treated or finished like commercial auto leather. Finishes vary from auto maker to auto maker, some with flame retardant sprays, and others with sealants to minimize stains, but these had a softer feel to them. They’re imported from Italy and have a rich grain to them. I found a light color that was close to my original seats, but my concerns were if this leather could stand up to the rigors of being an automobile interior. The owner warned that soda stains would not easily come out, and as oils build up in areas which are constantly touched, these places will darken with age, and form a patina much like an old leather jacket. Although I don’t plan on being careless in my Ferrari, I started to wonder if Connolly would have the same problems. I was given a couple of samples to take with me to think it over.

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