Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Real or Fake?

No, I’m not talking about the collection of Betsey Johnson dresses I bought on Ebay before finally ending up getting a real one (I had to send back two fakes, and am still awaiting a refund on one of them), I’m talking about leather.

One of the main reasons I started making leather goods initially was that I kept burning through synthetic/vinyl bags.  I was going through one vinyl messenger bag approximately every six months, and they weren’t cheap!  When you wear a hole in vinyl, there isn’t much you can do about it either, other than throw the bag away.  And every time I did it, I thought – LANDFILL!!!  So I built myself a leather messenger bag, and almost seven years later, it is still in one very happy piece.

The Apartment Therapy Blog actually does a pretty good pro/con list of leather and pleather/pvc/vinyl.  I’ve always felt like the lists were pretty biased against leather since it is an animal byproduct, and that my list might be slanted in the other direction. With a little inspiration and a push from Apartment Therapy, here’s the pro/con list as I see it:

Benefits of Leather:

1.  Animal byproduct – cow leather comes from cows that are used for meat, and are not slaughtered specifically for their meat.  The cattle industry uses a remarkable percentage of the cow (I’ve heard numbers up to 95% but haven’t been able to verify it) for various purposes.

2. Current vegetable tanning techniques are less environmentally impactful than previous chemical tanning methods.

3.  Leather is durable and can easily last 50 to 100 years or more, if well cared for.  Not easily torn or punctured, as synthetics can be.

4.  Leather can be re-dyed a different color if desired, or the color can be touched up when it fades.

5.  Leather develops a “patina” over time, and breaks in (think of an old baseball glove or a leather jacket) and will become more comfortable as it ages.

6. Breathable, and less “sticky” when hot than leather. 

7.  Generally hypo-allergenic.


Benefits of Synthetics:

1. Vegan friendly – not an animal byproduct.

2.  Can be any color or pattern that you desire.

3.  Easily cleaned and maintained – doesn’t require oiling or conditioning

4.  Won’t crack or fade over time.


Did I miss anything?  Let me know!  And if you have comments on the above list, feel free to leave them.  For now, I’ll leave you with two chairs, one old leather, and one old vinyl:

I love the way the leather chair is worn, and how it has aged over time.  You can almost see someone sitting in it right now…  and it looks like it is for sale, so maybe that someone will be me!

Off to the studio…


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