Leather is a beautiful, rich and time tested upholstery option. Once reserved for luxury chesterfields in up-scaled country clubs and sport cars, is now within nearly anyone’s prices range. Leather now represents more than 50% of all furniture sold.
Leather is desirable because of:
1) The hand – how it feels.
2) The color – how beautiful does it look.
3) Ascetics – the simplicity of leather
It is important to note that cows are slaughtered for their meat NOT their hides. The value of a cowhide is so minuscule in comparison to the rest of the cow for its meat that leather tanneries are actually a by-product or a “recycler” of the animal.
Historically, leather tanneries were next to slaughter houses because that’s where the hides were. There are almost no major US tanneries left producing leather for furniture due to three major factors:
1) The development of synthetic substitutes for leather (Bi-cast, bonded, performance fabrics: all explained below).
2) Increased imports of leather.
3) Environmental regulations- US environmental law has made it near impossible to tan leather as it is a dirty process. Most tanneries are now in places like Brazil, India, China and Italy.