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Original automotive replacement materials consist of leather, cloth, vinyl and headlining material put in factory automobile interiors (domestic and some foreign) and is supplied by a source called Detroit Originals. This company receives the fabric from the different automobile manufacturers. Original automotive fabric is more expensive than other comparable fabric and frankly, it is overpriced. In our industry we can't help this because the automobile manufacturers put a patent on the fabric designs and color combinations used in their cars thus they treat the fabric as a part for a car. This means that no one else (other fabric mills) is allowed to manufacture that particular fabric with that pattern and design. If you have never heard this it is true that if a person bought a $30,000 automobile over the parts counter at a dealership it would wind up costing approximately $90,000.
Another area of concern in our industry for the consumer and upholstery shops is the way automobile manufacturers is constructing seats in some cars. They are actually molding the fabric, with a high powered gluing process, right into the seating foam. This makes it impossible for a repair shop such as Catalina Custom to remove the cover and replace a damaged seat panel with an original piece of fabric. Consumers will be forced to return back to the dealers parts counter and purchase a complete seat and foam pad combination for replacement. Consumers will have the choice not to do this but it will be required for the complete seat to be recovered probably with a non-original fabric. This will more than likely be the reason if a consumer needs a seat repaired later on in years and returns to factory to be told "no longer available".
Another area of note is when original leather has to be replaced. If it is just a panel or two of leather in the upholstery cover, what can happen if the leather is more than two years old, the color shade of the new leather may not match up exactly. This can be caused by age, wear and or sun fade with the original leather. Another reason may be the die lot has changed slightly over the years. What Catalina Custom has had to do in some circumstances is have a professional leather / vinyl repair technician come in and dye the new leather to match more closely with what the original is. This has been the effort put forth on lease vehicles when damage has to be repaired in the upholstery when the lease is up and the repair cannot be noticeable.