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Forget Leather, Cashmere and Other Plush Fabrics Are Changing Car-Cabin Couture

Exotic materials are making inroads in automotive interiors from Aston Martin, Ferrari, Bentley, and Jaguar Land Rover.

The Range Rover Velar's exclusive fabric alternatives to leather. Photo: Courtesy of Jaguar Land Rover.

Jeremy Hackett is extolling the virtues of Fox Brothers check flannel from a seat upholstered in the very cloth. “This sofa has been good for 20 years,” says the chairman and founder of the British menswear brand Hackett, “which is what makes [the material] perfect for cars.” Hackett has partnered with Q by Aston Martin on a limited-edition car, the Aston Martin Rapide S Hackett Edition, which has an interior in a Prince of Wales check from the Somerset-based cloth makers. “I first considered pinstripe, then I thought it was too ‘city,’ ” he says. “I then realized that Aston Martin is by appointment to the Prince of Wales. I visited Fox Brothers, who used to make interiors for top-marque cars of the ’50s and ’60s.” The first limited-edition Rapide S model has been built, and more can be made to order—upholstered in the fabric—by special request.

This is part of the latest trend of luxury automakers ditching traditional leather for wool or other high-quality fabrics. The Queen of England has long favored wool. Her official Bentley, created for her Golden Jubilee in 2002, features West of England Cloth seats in the back, although the chauffeur’s seats are leather. Ferrari creates bespoke commissions using Loro Piana fabrics, and Range Rover has turned to Kvadrat, a Danish heritage company, to furnish the interiors of its Velar models, giving customers a luxurious alternative to traditional leather upholstery. The seats combine a durable wool-blend fabric from Kvadrat with Dinamica Suedecloth by Miko that is made from recycled plastic materials. The rich wool yarn is hard-wearing, stays cool in the heat and warm in the cold, and can be easily cleaned.

The Range Rover Velar's wool-blend fabric from Kvadrat.

The Range Rover Velar’s wool-blend fabric from Kvadrat.  Photo: Courtesy of Jaguar Land Rover.

Bentley is also giving luxurious wools a try. “We would love to do more with cashmere and wool interiors because, in years gone by, silk and cashmere formed the luxury interior part of the car,” says Romulus Rost, head of interior design at Bentley Motors. “Leather was for the driver in the rain. This year we had a Bentayga SUV model at the Cheltenham Gold Cup racing week that had cashmere door panels, and we are thinking about also having cashmere headlining.”

Textile samples from Ferrari.

Textile samples from Ferrari.  Photo: Courtesy of Ferrari.

As Marek Reichman, vice president and chief creative officer of Aston Martin affirms, “Wool is more forgiving, more malleable, and can cope with a lot of wear and tear. It is softer and somehow more human.” When asked what is next, Reichman responds: “Alpaca.”

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