Remember Pleather? That cheap-looking stuff beloved by animal-rights activists, that stiff imitation stuff no one in a million years could ever call cool? Well, forget about it. Because president Randy Wells and his brilliant, South End-based company, Valtekz, have given faux hides an extreme makeover, and the result is one of the hippest things to happen to upholstery, like, ever.
Just ask PETA spokeswoman Pam Anderson, who’s having Valtekz cover the interior of her retro RV in snowy white skins. Or Jeff Gordon, who recently had some car seats swathed in a pebble-grained plum. Or celebrated New York designer Celerie Kemble, who papered her baby’s bedroom walls with “Nest,” a richly textured, grass green leather-look wallcovering from the line she just happened to design for Valtekz. Kemble (frequently featured in the likes of Traditional Home, domino, and InStyle) is the design powerhouse behind Valtekz and a long-time friend of Wells.
“Celerie has her finger on the pulse of fashion,” Wells says. “She’s really done a lot for us. ” Including three volumes of a color-saturated collection contingent on couture (her pomegranate eel skin, for example, is a tribute to the recent return of 1980s trends), and a portfolio of weather-proof outdoor products to debut in September.
Kemble’s collection joins Valtekz’s two previous ones: Essentials, which includes rich, classic “calf-skin” basics; and Luxo, lizard, crocodile, and basketweave creations with preppy playboy looks. Kemble’s designs, Wells says, round out the company’s products “by being supremely fashion-oriented. Lots of snakeskin, glossy crocodile, patent leathers, colors like Marc Jacob’s teal, kate spade’s yellow, Hermès orange.
“Our type of product has been regarded as vinyl in the past, as a poor sub for leather,” Wells says. “But we found a way to build a better beast. We ignore other companies and take our cues from the fashion industry. Plus, we don’t hurt animals.”
Indeed, Valtekz is truly making it by faking it. The latest technologies let the company imitate natural hides and skins with incredible accuracy while allowing for deeper texture and the most vivid of hues. All this while providing customers with the chance to bask in the fuzzy warmth of political correctness.
Valtekz provides exclusively to the trade, through select automotive and marine manufacturers and through furniture companies such as Century Furniture. Some accessories, such as the coveted Daytripper carry-on ($350), are available online.