What you need to know about high end leather furniture.
We recently attended a seminar at the Dallas Decorative Center. It was a high end leather furniture seminar.
Thirty years ago leather was only 3% of upholstery sales in the U.S., but today leather is 24% of the upholstery sales in the U.S. Did you know that leather is projected to be 40% of all upholstery sales in the future?
What are the reasons for this huge growth? It is a story of good value because Leather is actually a better value than fabric because of its durability. The longevity of leather seating is 5 times that of fabric.
The variety of colors, textures and price ranges for different styles, tastes and demands is another reason why the leather business has grown so much. There is a much wider selection of leathers now.
The serviceability of leather is awesome. It is the most serviceable upholstery material there is. It is very easy to maintain.
There is also more market awareness of leather because there are more leathers in the marketplace than ever before due to new price points and distribution channels. Remember, leather is a by-product of the beef industry.
There is also much confusion about leather. Not only is the customer confused but the retail sales people and some interior designers are also confused. They cannot understand why a high-end pair of leather shoes costs more than a leather sofa.
They also think that leather will feel cold or hot. Today’s better leathers do not feel hot or cold to your touch. That is because they breathe.
We will not discuss the bonded leathers because they do not hold up like leather that is full top grain leather or top grain leather that comes from a hide or hides. Bonded leathers are not high end leathers.
There are 3 factors that determine the price of a leather hide. They are
1. Origin -where the hide comes from
2. Selection- only the best hides
3. Finish used on the leather
The best hides are of European origin. We were able to see and touch a hide from Germany. The hides from Europe are more supple and have less flaws from bites and scratches. The more flawless the hide is, the more expensive it will be.
European hides are best, American hides are next and South American hides are least costly. Although the Argentina hides are better than the hides from Brazil, the more they have to do with the leather, the less the leather will cost.
There is Full Top Grain leather which means it is 100% natural grain and has not been altered at all and there is Top Grain leather which is originally a full top grain which has been altered through sanding.
There are 3 main types of leather finishes. They are
Aniline which is a translucent dye,
Aniline Plus, which is aniline dyed with light opaque protective topcoat and
Pigmented, which is aniline dyed with heavy opaque protective topcoat,
There are usually 5 types of Leather Classifications. They are;
CLASS I Pigmented/embosses
CLASS II Aniline Plus with no clusters of scars showing on hide
CLASS III Aniline- “B” selection, if it’s not an open scar or brand, they cut it in
CLASS IV Premium Pull-Up which is usually made with European hides
CLASS V Premium Aniline where the neck and fat wrinkles show and are very desirable and has light spots and scars 1/2″ and under
There can also be “special effects” on actual leather hides. For example:
Pull-up The hides aare impregnated with oils and wax to cause the color to dissipate when stretched.
Nubuck The surface grain is polished to remove slight hair layer of skin to create a subtle nap.
Hand Antiqued – This is achieved by hand rubbing and padding the hide
Sauvage – This is slight variations of shade and color
Embossed – These hides are embossed with heat and pressure to create a uniform appearance.
There are also many exotic leathers, such as Hair-on-Hide, Suede, and Boutiqued Leathers.
Natural hair-on-hide with exotic animal skin patterns applied to the surface, such as an alligator pattern are popular. With suede the hide contains no grain. There is flesh both on top and bottom of the hide. It is the second or third layer underneath the top grain.
There are various finishing techniques for exotic leathers as there are various finishing and embossing techniques for Boutiqued Leathers.
This embossed leather chair really makes a fashion statement.
A professional interior designer has great resources for leather and knows the companies who are discriminating when picking out their leather hides.If you purchase your leather sofa or chair from a professional interior designer, you are sure to get a furniture piece that is as comfortable and durable as it is beautiful. Luxurious leather is something you will love to have and enjoy in your home.