Alcantara: Beyond the Hype

Published by Nadeem Muaddi on July 16th, 2014

Auto Upholstery - The Hog Ring - Alcantara

AlcantaraAlcantaraAlcantara! These days, it’s the only fabric customers seem to know by name. But how many people – auto trimmers included – even know what it is? In a light-hearted article titled “What The Hell is Alcantara, Anyway?,” automotive news blog Jalopnik breaks it down.

Here’s an excerpt…

A common myth about Alcantara is that it’s made from the skin of the wild Alcantar — a llama/ostrich hybrid from the borderlands between Peru and Greece whose massive thigh haunches are used to make those huge cones of gyro meat.

A little bit of research proves that this isn’t true, since not only is the animal fictitious, but Peru and Greece don’t seem to share a border. And science doesn’t yet actually know where gyro meat comes from. The actual truth is far more shocking: Alcantara is basically Ultrasuede. [read more]

The primary difference between Alcantara and Ultrasuede is that the former is made in Italy while latter is made in Japan. They’re also color dyed differently, which gives them slightly different looks. But, at the end of the day, they’re both microfibers.

In fact, Toray Industries, the company that owns Ultrasuede, also owns 70% of Alcantara S.p.A. What’s more, Dr. Miyoshi Okamoto, the Japanese scientist who invented Ultrasuede for Toray Industries, was awarded Italy’s famed Leonardo Prize for bringing his invention to Italy.

So why is everyone going nuts for Alcantara while ignoring Ultrasuede? The answer is quite simple: fancy marketing.

Of course, that doesn’t mean Alcantara is a poor product. On the contrary, it’s actually quite awesome. However, it’s important to know exactly what you’re buying and recommending to customers.

2 Responses

  1. Bryn Taylor says:

    This is a marketing coup similar to Uniroyal’s Naugahyde. I recall people asking for “real” Naugahyde. Their advertising always said, “Genuine Naugahyde”, as though they were selling genuine leather. Good job in marketing here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *