Where do they get their…
It’s only bull hides. The reason for that is, the cows, because they are giving milk, are too stretchy. They take on milk every day. The cows are also more valuable to the farmers because they use them for breeding and they keep them longer. The bulls get used for meat production. From about two years old, they’re about six and a half square yards surface size. So that’s a big hide. So they only come from certain places in the world, around northern Europe. Outside of that, bulls live far more open lives.
Our bulls live in lovely green fields with wooden fences and get fed high-protein meals every day. Basically, it’s a lazy life. They want them to be as lazy as they can be so they can get real fat, real quick, because that’s all meat, the meat goes onto them real quick. When you get Argentinean steak, the steak is good because the animal lives a really tough life. He’s running up and down mountains, he’s eating poor quality food, he’s fighting, he’s going out smoking, drinking, gambling. It's a tough life for those bad boys. And the meat is brilliant for it, but the animal skin? Terrible, it’s all stretched and torn. You can use it for shoes, but you can’t really use it for anything else. So we are quite selective as to where we get our raw materials from.
Aside from the selection of hides, what else separates your leather?
Then it goes to this finishing tannery and they do wonderful things, giving a coating that is one sixth the thickness of a spray coat that is used on all other high-end automotive leathers. Our thickness of paint is very, very thin, which means you feel the leather. That’s why it’s got the suppleness, the touch, the feel. It’s a drum painting system, and because it drums it on so thin, it actually goes down into the hair follicles on the painting across the top. If you think about when you rub certain leathers together you hear a squeaking. You get a cheap automotive interior, you hear squeak, squeak. That’s not the leather squeaking, that’s the paint squeaking on top of it. By having so little paint, and having it following the contours so well, our leather doesn’t squeak. When it was first developed for Rolls-Royce, we put it in to test. The guys who were testing it said, “Yes, of course it’s going to squeak, all leather squeaks." The designer said it wouldn't. Three months afterwards, they finish the test. They said, “You wont believe this! The leather doesn’t squeak!”
It wears well, develops a brilliant patina over time, and develops character. It will crease and it will form wrinkles, but it won’t crack. The cracking, again, is the paint, and if you don’t have layers of paint to crack, you don’t get cracked leather. It basically means that that car will go through your life and age with you.
About how many bulls does it take to do an entire car?
Eleven for a normal car and about thirteen for an extended wheelbase. It's a lot of leather, which is why it’s about meat production. If there wasn’t a leather industry, then there would be thousands, if not millions, of tons of leather that would be put into the garbage every week, because what else do you use it for? So we are actually providing an opportunity to use the skins sensitively and make the most out of them rather than putting them into the trash and using plastic instead. It doesn’t make any sense. You might as well use the natural material that’s there and treasure it.