Why leather stands the test of time on passenger ships

Jimmy Ahlgren on why chairs that Elmo Leather produced 40 years ago are still in fine shape

Why leather stands the test of time on passenger ships

By Guest |

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2019 issue of Spring/Summer 2019 issue of International Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.

Recently I was sitting with an old client in Sweden and my soon-to-retire colleague said: “I remember when I delivered the leather here for these chairs.” I asked when this was, and he replied: “1980”.

The chairs, which are made from our aniline leather, still look very good. The restaurant at the golf resort in Sweden agreed to my request and allowed me to borrow three chairs in order to photograph them. They look fabulous!

Being environmentally friendly is mightily important for our company, so when we have a leather chair that still looks good 39 years after it was bought, it makes a pretty good sales pitch in terms of sustainability. Customers always reap the benefits if you focus on providing high-quality, instead of buying low-price, products. The chairs have turned into some pretty nice vintage chairs through the years.

Some people think that high-price materials will always result in high costs, but this is not the case. High-price products are sustainable, so they actually lead to lower costs. If, for example, you take the price of our leather and divide it by 39 years, the yearly cost for the material would be quite small, especially in comparison to a low-cost leather that would last three years.

We ensure that our products are of the highest quality and are also sustainable. Many of our leather products are chosen by cruise and ferry operators specifically because they know that they will last a long time without needing to be repaired or refurbished, which leads to lower costs.

Using leather, rather than fabric, for furniture on cruise ships and passenger ferries also brings other advantages. When fabrics become old, they begin to look worn and dirty, but as leather ages, it will create a patina that enhances the luxury appearance and feel of the product. This results in a fashionable and sought-after vintage look, which means marine customers do not need to reupholster or renovate the furniture as often as they would with fake leathers or other fabrics.

Based upon the sustainability of our leather chairs and how long they end up lasting, we’ve even created a new product. Our ‘new vintage’ leather products look like they are vintage, but customers don’t have to wait 39 years to get the look.

Another benefit of using leather for furniture on cruise ships is that the material speaks to people’s senses – most like the unique feel, smell and appearance of leather. It brings a luxurious feel to the end user and it is easily maintained in comparison to fabric. For example, when beverages like wine or coffee are spilled on leather chairs in restaurants, they can be easily wiped away.

In addition, leather is a versatile material that can be used for a variety of applications. It is also sustainable in many aspects – it’s a by-product of the meat industry, so it cuts waste and also means that we can help to sustain the tannery industry. We also work with local suppliers, which helps to sustain the economy.

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