Lear’s fall collection was a fashion show with a twist: The models were wearing original designs that matched the Tier 1 supplier’s latest visions for seat-wear.
“Fashion is quite a powerful entity in the broad world of design. We’re finding more and more that design is driving purchasing decisions. So quality, craftsmanship, and design of the vehicle interior makes a difference. The details are very important,” Jeanette Puig-Pey, Lear Corp.’s Global Manager for Fabric/Leather Design, told SAE Magazines during the supplier’s fall 2013 seat-cover fashion show on Oct. 24.
Amid pounding electronic music and sweeping spotlights, the stage of Detroit’s Fillmore theater featured a parade of fashions. Among the showpieces: A seat cover comprised of cognac-color leather straps offset by colored fabrics that was paired with a male model attired in the same materials, and a female model wearing a black leather tunic with cutout geometric shapes partnered with a seat featuring integrated LED lighting amid a geometric material cutaway.
“In this example, Lear’s Illumitrim illuminates the cage-like structure from behind to incorporate a hint of technology,” Puig-Pey said about the fashion show’s High Voltage concept seat.
Lear’s five concept seats featured customization via various secondary processes. According to Mandy Sarotte, Lear’s Vice President of Advanced Engineering & Design for Global Trim Operations, the company’s Aventino Signature leather brand offers perforation, embossing, and laser etching options.
“By adding a secondary treatment, such as a metallic or a distressed look, our finishing processes can add a unique design-effect to a leather surface. With today’s introduction of polymer printing, we now have another customization offering for leather via Aventino Signature,” Sarotte told SAE Magazines.
The polymer printing process enables Lear designers to create a unique look that is then laminated onto the leather as a 3-µm (118-µin) thick film. “We essentially can create any design effect that’s desired, but it still feels like leather while meeting durability,” Sarotte said.
TeXstyle Enhance applies a secondary process to a base fabric. The possibilities include printing, embroidery, and laser etching. “This approach of adding a design effect to fabric means that a customer can change the look without changing factory tooling,” Sarotte said, noting that Lear is the industry’s exclusive provider of laser etching for seats and headliners.
Aventino Defense provides enhanced leather protection. “This treatment is put on the top coat as well as occurring during the finishing and tanning processes,” Sarotte said about the anti-odor, anti-dye transfer protector.
TeXstyle Defense protects seat fabrics. “What’s unique about this is it’s customizable, so this is not a one-size-fits-all chemistry. We can achieve anti-soiling, odor protection, water repulsion, and anti-static properties with TeXstyle Defense,” said Sarotte.
TeXstyle Lite is a lightweight, low-cost fabric for non-wear seat areas. “What we’re saying is you don’t need to have one fabric all over the seat. It’s not necessary. Certain areas, like the outside bolster of the seat, have higher abrasion from sliding in and out of the seat. But for the headrest, the upper insert, and inboard side facings, which are the low-wear seat areas, TeXstyle Lite is a good option,” said Sarotte.
TeXstyle Tough is engineered for high-wear seat areas. “This is designed to have two times the wear beyond the customers’ specifications,” Sarotte said.
In terms of seat-cover trends, Puig-Pey said that material combinations are gaining in popularity. “We are seeing a few production vehicles that feature both fabric and leather in combination, but it’s not widely embraced yet. We’re really hoping to bring that focus into the market because as a company we offer both fabric and leather seat covers,” said Puig-Pey.
Matt Simoncini, Lear’s President and CEO, said innovative seat-cover designs allow automakers to differentiate their makes and models, even entry-level vehicles. “I do believe it will help sell vehicles,” Simoncini said.