Italian Leather, Fabric and Lace

Italy is well-known for its fabric, leather and couture.

Many of KOTHEA’s velvets are sourced from Italy’s finest mills to provide some of the most luxurious upholstery and curtain fabrics available.

High-end upholstery is often reliant on high quality Italian leather Shoelaces, trimmings and smaller items can be made up from the remnants of the hides that are used on the furniture.

KOTHEA occasionally deal with full hides but, more often than not, designers these days choose faux leathers to minimise wastage and to ensure consistency of finish with a realistic finish often reminescent of Italian leather Lace manufacturers and coutire houses also often make use with off-cuts for handbags and other apparel usages.

Faux Leather Upholstery

Brown Faux Leather Upholstery Banquette
Brown Faux Leather Upholstery Banquette

Faux (or fake) Leather offers a great alterantive to leather. With Martindale rubs of over 100,000 this is a very safe choice for high use contract areas. It’s usually made of a pure cotton basecloth with a poly-cotton visible coating. There are many other animal skins that are mimiced in the same way and in many cases the finishes are convincing.

But why not just use leather?

Much leather production has now moved away from the West to areas with less stringent environmental laws and lower wage rates. This is where the problem lies.

Chromium based compounds are used in the tanning and curing process of real leather. They are thought to be carcinogenic as, in some European tanning factories, cancer rates were found to be up to 50% higher in workers than in the population as a whole. Furthermore there were higher incidences of Leukemia in children living in areas near the tanneries. Environmental problems are exacerbated by the siting of factories next to rivers; the significant amounts of discharge that are produced are fed into the water courses and then dispersed over wide areas. In more lowly regulated economies it is not unreasonable to believe that the situation is probably worse.

Moving towards a better leather requires that chromium use is stopped completely and that the water used in production is cleaned and re-used in the factory. Any tanins and dyes uses would preferably be plant based.

Food for thought: If you wear leather clothing on sweaty skin then chromium residues in the leather can rub off and enter the skin.

Faux Leather Martindale Test – What does it look like

Ever wondered what a Martindale rub test looks like?


We’ve already shown a video of this <here> however of some additional interest might be the following faux leather samples that recently came back to us from the Martindale testing laboratory.

Faux Leather After Martindale Rub Test
Faux Leather After Martindale Rub Test


So the link (above) shows you the machine in action and the image above shows you the circular cuttings taken of the fabric that have been rubbed, in this case, 200,000 times. As you can see this excellent performance faux leather of ours lasted WELL above the industry ‘norm’ of 100,000.

Faux leather Upholstery

Pinterest Picks
Pinterest Picks (Photo credit: CieraHolzenthal)

Recently we have had some detailed enquiries about how to upholster with the fine upholstery faux leather that we sell. KOTHEA are certainly NOT expert upholsterers and those questions should be aimed at your professional upholsterer.

Having said that here is a video (below) by Christopher Nejman showing some techniques for faux leather upholstery.

For more information about our faux leather products and colours click <here> or use the links on the right.