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Winter Leather Trends

December 10, 2012
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Each winter season, we all see leather as a staple material across men’s and women’s clothing and accessories. Whether chosen for its warmth, its look, or its durability, leather products abound this time of year. If you so choose, you can now even get specialized Leather Touchscreen Gloves to ensure your hands can be warm while texting! From leather, heated car seats to leather jackets, we associate leather with keeping us warm and stylish during the colder months. It’s no wonder then that leather is on the minds of consumers when they’re looking to improve or purchase furniture.

While leather is a hot topic year round at DCT Leathers, we certainly do get an increased number of clients asking us about reupholstering their furniture with one our 140 genuine, handcrafted colors in the winter months. The hesitation or question is rarely about the choice of material; instead, clients want to be assured that it’s the right decision to re-upholster versus buy new. Even though there’s not a clear cut answer or formula to decide, in our experience, today’s new just isn’t going to be comparable to the old.

So if you’re thinking about replacing that old couch, think about its age. If it’s been around for 40 years, yes it might need some new leather material and cosmetic updates, but there’s also a reason it’s been around that long! The materials, processes, and structures have changed. Depending on the age, original manufacturer, and components your tired couch might be the perfect candidate for our leather upholstery hides. Check out our past blogs for more discussion of antique restoration and quality and durability! And, if in doubt, your upholster will give the thumbs up to go for it or not, and you might just end up with an heirloom to be enjoyed for the next 40 years!

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Why Write on Leather?

October 23, 2012
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While we certainly believe in the value of writing on leather at DCT Leathers (with our popular and extensive line of leather desktops for home, office, or restoration projects), we understand that its use as a writing surface is not the most widespread. Sometimes, we do get the question: why do people prefer to write on leather?

To get a general sense of why leather desktops gained esteem in the past and are still cherished by many, it is interesting to look at their history. Nowadays, many leather-topped desks are inspired by the “President’s Desk”, officially known as the Resolute Desk. Still an iconic piece of the Oval Office, its presidential history dates back to 1880 when it was given to President Rutherford Hayes by the Queen of England. An American vessel had found an abandoned ship and returned it to the Queen. She subsequently had wood from the ship, the HMS Resolute, crafted into a desk to give as a gift to the U.S. Most of the Presidents, with only a few exceptions, in American history have chosen to use the desk, either in the Office or in residence.

The prestigious history in part helps explain why replicas of the Resolute Desk abound and why many people, from Presidents of the United States to bestselling authors, choose to write on leather.  Ultimately the choice to write on leather is one of preference, much like writing by hand versus typing, or keeping a physical appointment book versus the calendar in your email. What are some of your preferences? Do you prefer the look? The feel? Or, strength of the leather? We’d like to hear from you!

DCT Trivia: Have you spotted the Green Chair?

October 12, 2012
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If you’ve engaged in the baseball season this fall in Toronto – either in watching televised games or getting the full experience at the stadium – you may have spotted the green chairs; they are the seemingly comfortable and inviting green leather arm chairs that are the focal point of the Comfort Zone at Rogers Centre.

And, even if you’re not an avid Blue Jays fan, or baseball fan at all for that matter, you still might have seen these chairs in one of TD Canada’s commercials from the “Banking can be this comfortable” campaign. Like this commercial for instance:

 

The reason we’re excited to share with you this bit of trivia, is that this chair is actually upholstered with leather distributed by DCT Leathers! With the durability and rich color of this Scottish leather, this shade (one of over 140 colors in our stock) was the perfect choice for these statement chairs. So next time you visit the stadium or see an ad, you’ll know that they’re not only the “TD green chairs,” you’ll recognize that they’re the chairs made of Andrew Muirhead leather in Leaf Green, distributed by DCT Leathers in Toronto.

Quality = Durability, Not Simply Look

October 8, 2012
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As we discussed in our last blog, the “value” of a restored or refurbished antique is in the eye of the beholder. At DCT Leathers, we’re excited to see that more and more people are placing a higher value on recycling furniture. Since to “reclaim, reuse, and/or refurbish” is on an upward trend in home remodeling, we thought it was a good opportunity to touch on the manifold nature of “quality”. In the case of quality “used” items, there’s the durability issue; whether they can withstand “upcycling”.  Whether you’re choosing to purchase used items based on nostalgia, environmental responsibility, or style, there is a lot to be said for choosing your items based on this criterion.

Green Leather Desk

As a distributor of full-grain European leathers, we get to see our customers create their preferred look on vintage furniture or even automobiles without sacrificing highest quality. Whether it’s one of our customers refurbishing antique cars, or a NY Times best-selling author purchasing his preferred leather desktop, we provide people with the opportunity to update the things they cherish while implementing their preferences and preserving the integrity of the original item. While the value is often apparent in the style, materials, workmanship, etc., the durability that comes with a high-quality item allows you to keep the core structure and modify any corresponding elements, thus creating a piece you take pride in. Check out the beautiful green leather desk on the right that we worked to restore.

While reasons for reusing abound, one thing is clear: the reuse trend is not based solely on cost savings. We see it – and so does the market – as embracing quality and durability and having an appreciation for your belongings. Needless to say, it is satisfying for us to be a part of this process.

 

Advice and Thoughts on Antique Restoration

October 4, 2012
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If you’re part of the growing number of consumers who would prefer to purchase a one-of-a-kind piece of furniture rather than from a standard-issue box store, you may have already been faced with the question: to refinish or not to refinish? As consignment stores boom, DIY trends grow, and Pinterest provides thousands of ideas for “reclaiming” your used items, it becomes more and more tempting and feasible to “stamp” your own style on your pieces.

If you find yourself asking this question, we have a few thoughts on the matter. While many antique road shows and dealers will appraise a piece of furniture based on finish, there is more than one way we suggest you look at “value”. There is always the option of refinishing, or even improving an antique. The re-sale value many not be as high, but you’ll have to consider the other benefits and the actual enjoyment you’ll derive from updating and using your antique.

We suggest that you ask yourself:

  • What is the function? Does it have a use?
  • Do you want to enjoy it or to admire it? Are you going to look at it or are you going to sit on it?
  • Do you want to add value? Is your plan to sell it down the road?

Considering each of these questions will give you your answer (and maybe even assuage any guilt you may have in refinishing a piece). Truth be told, there are reasons why you should improve an antique beyond monetary value. In our experience at DCT Leathers, the pride you take in using the item and the enjoyment you have can outweigh the sheer dollars and cents.  (Here’s a photo of an antique wagon that has given us immeasurable pleasure in using over the years)

Andrew Muirhead: Probably the “Greenest” Tannery on Earth

September 5, 2012
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At DCT Leathers, we proudly represent Andrew Muirhead & Son since 1989 on account of its exceptional standards, its broad color palette and its visibly high quality, among other attributes. But one of the reasons we are most proud to be affiliated with the Muirhead tannery is on account of its commitment to the environment and its related technological advancements. Andrew Muirhead Fine Scottish Leather, together with 3 other manufacturing subsidiaries and a technology company, form the Scottish Leather Group, Ltd. This group is the largest leather manufacturer in the UK, having over 490 years of experience collectively in the field – and has exceeded all expectations in setting its vision for a green tannery.

The group produces low carbon leather with ZERO waste. This is huge, because leather production is typically VERY wasteful; the majority of the raw hide gets wasted, often around 80%. But Andrew Muirhead & Son and his colleagues have created a self-sustaining tannery that reuses materials which would otherwise go to waste. The project was underway in 2010, is now fully functioning and is expected to be complete in 2015.

By establishing a thermal energy plant to power their operation, they have created a “closed loop” of producing leather, converting solid and liquid leftovers into usable resources for keeping the plant functioning, and for re-fueling the leather-making process. It is somewhat mind-blowing that this self-funded, innovative venture uses local resources, converts liquid waste into clean water, and takes solid waste into electric energy: it’s the most revolutionary tannery of its kind in the world.

See for yourself. Check out this video to see how 100% of waste is recycled: 

Caring For Your Leather

August 27, 2012
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At DCT Leathers, we believe that true leather care begins before purchase. The frequency and type of necessary care are entirely dependent on the combination of the leather’s type and coating and the final product’s function.  Choosing the right leather for your commercial or residential needs is somewhat akin to choosing a car. Not every vehicle is optimal for every purpose and climate; you wouldn’t want to drive your sports car everyday on your commute during a Toronto winter. Likewise, concerns about environmental wear and tear apply to leather. Not all leather would be an ideal material for areas of extreme temperature. In fact, when using leather hides, excessive heat should be avoided altogether.

You also want to be conscious of the effects of traffic on the life of product; high-use items, like lobby furniture, will experience more foot traffic than residential pieces. Planning for your leather needs and options, for instance reviewing common tanning terms, will allow you to maximize the life and look of the product with minimal care. DCT Leathers helps customers to choose the best-suited hide, the proper protective coating and the most effective cleaning method.  In an earlier post, we discussed some of these qualities we suggest aircraft owners consider when choosing aircraft leather.

Once you’ve chosen your leather, maintenance will depend on the type of hide and coating, but there are precautions you can take in caring for your leather to avoid the need for extreme cleaning measures. For regular cleaning, your supplies are in fact basic: a damp cloth and vacuum do the trick in preventing the buildup of dirt and other abrasives. For more on what to keep away from your leather, how to clean hides, and tips on regular care, check out our guidelines here!

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