Boutiques Want Your Unwanted Car Fabrics

Published by Nadeem Muaddi on June 18th, 2014

Auto Upholstery - The Hog Ring - Couch Guitar Strap

If large rolls of old, unwanted fabric are taking up valuable space in your auto upholstery shop, consider selling them to a boutique clothing and accessories manufacturer. Increasingly, these companies — which make everything from  jackets to purses out of automotive fabric — are turning to shops like ours for rare and discontinued materials.

Couch, for instance, is a California-based company that buys deadstock materials from auto upholstery shops and manufactures guitar straps out of them. Founder Dan Perkins recently explained his inspiration for the company to BBC Autos:

“It was hard to find good non-leather straps,” says Dan. “I thought about it and then found myself in custom auto shops. California is highly car-focused, so auto-related businesses dominate the industrial sections of almost any town.”

Dan soon found that seat coverings, distinctive trunk linings and even vinyl roof material, when stitched to a proper backing, made the perfect solution to his animal-friendly strap quest. “I began perusing old upholstery houses for their cast-off rolls of replacement vinyl.”

Couch production has only used properly stored original or faithful reproduction upholstery, not reclaimed and aged upholstery pulled out of wrecks. Junkyard diving to harvest the old stuff out of formerly glorious Cadillacs, Camaros and Mercedes-Benzes would never have yielded enough usable material. Plus, junkyard neglect makes decades-old vinyl brittle. [more]

Of course, not every company makes items out of unused materials. Some – like Platinum Dirt and Mari Cla Ro – base their entire gimmick on using upcycled fabrics taken from abandoned cars at salvage yards. In fact, jackets by Platinum Dirt come with a VIN plate embedded on the chest so you can actually trace the history of the car from which your jacket was made. While I’m sure the company only chooses the best of the best, I personally wouldn’t wear one. There’s something about paying $1,500 for a jacket made from a car seat someone spent the last 40 years farting into that doesn’t sit well with me — but hey, to each his own.

With companies like these popping up all over the Internet, there’s clearly a demand for rare and discontinued fabrics that bring little or no value to us. Why not take advantage of it by selling them your unwanted materials? A simple Google search turns up companies like Kim White Handbags and Wicked Purses that are worth reaching out to.

Or, if you have time, consider making your own guitar straps and wallets to sell on artisan websites like Etsy. You’d be surprised by how much people are paying for these things.

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