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TV viewers left in no doubt about limitations of ‘bonded leather’

Director of the University of Cincinnati's Leather Research Laboratory, Steven Lange, has appeared on local television in the US to explain the difference between leather and so-called ‘bonded leather’. He gave an expert opinion on the contrasts between the two materials on a programme that seeks to give advice to consumers.

The programme had received a complaint from a consumer in Georgia who was disappointed by the degradation of the upholstery on a five-year-old sofa that he had been told was made from leather. Instead, the material used on the $1,500 sofa was bonded leather.

Steven Lange explained that bonded leather is small pieces of leather scraps, pressed into place and held together chemically.

He said: “With natural leather, the grain will make little wrinkles when you fold it. With the bonded leather product you are not going to have that look at all. It's like a smooth sheet of plastic. Once people know the difference between real and bonded they will want real leather.”

After the programme aired, Stephen Sothmann, president of the US Hide, Skin and Leather Association, said: “It was a really great piece. We will all need to do more of this type of work in the future as we seek to defend and promote our industry.”

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