Luxury Leather Lifestyle
February 23, 2007 2:23 PM   Subscribe

Why are leather seats considered a luxury item in cars and sometimes part of first class service on trains and planes? Is it a holdover from earlier times? Just a question that popped into my mind as I recycled a floyer from Amtrak detailing the new First Class Acela service.
posted by buttercup to Travel & Transportation (15 answers total)
They're expensive and comfortable.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:27 PM on February 23, 2007

They are more expensive than there cloth counterparts. Leather seats often feel nicer than cloth. Granted this is taken as a whole. I am sure there are some pretty opulent frabrics out there as well as some awfully poor leather as well.
posted by mmascolino at 2:27 PM on February 23, 2007

Supposedly all the seats on JetBlue planes are leather because of a bad experience that the airline's founder had, sitting down on a dark-colored cloth-covered plane seat that was (imperceptibly to the eye) wet.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 2:30 PM on February 23, 2007

More comfortable, less sweaty than synthetic fabrics or vinyl, and long-lasting/durable.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 2:34 PM on February 23, 2007

posted by smackfu at 3:25 PM on February 23, 2007

Last time I flew Southwest, most of their seats were leather or pleather of some sort. It's much more durable ... but is generally considered to be a luxury good, and therefore is used in luxury services.

(If I can avoid it, I'll never have another car with mowed mousefur -- industry term for fabric interior -- ever again.)
posted by SpecialK at 3:45 PM on February 23, 2007

Costs more, but easier to clean, shows less wear than fabric over time.
posted by furtive at 3:55 PM on February 23, 2007

Another factor in the leather-or-not decision is kid-traffic. Leather, due to the cost of repairing holes and pen marks, is usually reserved for vehicles/seats likely to be adult only.
posted by nomisxid at 4:02 PM on February 23, 2007

One more factor in whether to get leather or not is belief in animal rights. I don't buy or wear leather, so it's actually better when there's a fabric option.
posted by cmgonzalez at 4:09 PM on February 23, 2007

I don't know if it's true, but since I've had a car with leather seats, the seats seem to be less variable in temperature in the sun. It may be just my perception -- the plastic steering wheel gets hot, but the seats aren't as bad.

It's a Daewoo -- the leather isn't throughout...
posted by Robert Angelo at 4:12 PM on February 23, 2007

I hate leather seats, at least the Southwest ones -- I always slide around on them and it drives me crazy.

But yeah, it's supposedly more luxurious. Certainly looks prettier than the rainbow-striped velour you get some places.
posted by katemonster at 5:05 PM on February 23, 2007

i work for an australian company. the seats are more labour intensive to make (trim), and the materials cost much more. we made some seats from kangaroo leather which was probably the most comfortable leather seat we have made
posted by edtut at 2:33 AM on February 24, 2007

I actually find the opposite as Robert Angelo - I feel like leather seats get much hotter in the summer and much colder in the winter than their cloth counterparts of the same color (grey).
posted by twoporedomain at 6:24 AM on February 24, 2007

This is just one man's opinion, but when wearing tailored "draping" dress clothes, like a suit (particularly wool or wool blends), it's sometimes kinda uncomfortable to sit in a fabric upholstered seat compared to leather because of the friction. If I try to slide or scooch around on the seat, it sorta grabs at the pants and jacket and I always have to pick up and basically adjust clothing. It doesn't seem to happen as much when I'm wearing jeans, or at least I don't seem to notice as much or care.

It might just be that I'm more self-conscious when wearing suits, but I definitely notice the material of chairs more. That, plus the traditionalism aspect, might have something to do with the amount of leather you see in 'luxury' areas.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:39 AM on February 25, 2007

Leather tanning technology has advanced quite a lot in the last few years and this has brought furniture such as leather sofas in the reach of the mass market. In the not too distant past it was extremely expensive so it therefore retains an air of luxury. There is still a wide range of cost for different tanning an dyeing processes however. A little history on the techniques used.
posted by rongorongo at 2:26 AM on February 26, 2007

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