What exactly is Alcantara anyway?
Alcantara is a synthetic, man-made, microfiber fabric similar in look and feel of suede. It was first invented in 1970 by Dr. Miyoshi Okamoto in Japan.
Is Alcantara a generic term for microfiber fabric?
No, Alcantara is a trademarked name. It is a form of Ultrasuede or microfiber fabric which are the generic terms. Alcantara is a specific brand of microfiber fabric Ultrasuede. This is the same as the public use of the word Kleenex, everyone refers to Kleenex as a tissue. But not all tissues are made by the Kleenex brand.
Why is Alcantara now made in Italy if it was invented in Japan?
Purely for marketing. Having the name luxurious sounding name “Alcantara” and the fact that it is now “Made in Italy” makes the fabric more exotic and desirable.
What is Alcantara made from?
Primarily made from 65% - 80% polyester, and 35% to 20% polyurethane. Different percentages will depend on the application and product line.
How can you tell real from fake Alcantara?
True Alcantara or Ultrasuede has nearly identical front and back sides. Many fake Ultrasuedes have only the suede-like front with a cotton backing. This is the easiest way to differentiate the two.
Why is Alcantara a better option than leather?
The main benefit of Alcantara is that the fabric does not come from an animal. This not only reduces obvious benefits of killing innocent animals but it allows for larger sizes of fabrics. Where leather is limited to the size of a cow, Alcantara can be made in larger sheets if necessary which would reduce the number of seems needed to cover larger pieces.
Where leather is hard and delicate to clean, Alcantara can be washed in a laundry machine and is not sensitive to most cleaners like leather.
Leather is cold in the winter and hot in the summer, the worst combination you want for a vehicle’s interior. Alcantara, on the other hand, is cool to the touch in the summer and warm to the touch in the winter, really the ideal combination for a vehicle’s interior.
Leather also dries out and cracks when exposed to the sun, it ages terribly over time if not properly maintained. Alcantara is completely resistant to cracking like leather and will not fade from harmful UV rays.
What are more benefits of Alcantara?
- 50% lighter than leather
- Breathes better than leather
- Naturally resists stains
- Excellent fire retardant qualities (ideal for race seats, gloves etc.)
- Highly customizable with colors
- Doesn’t “pill” or ball up like a cheap sweater over time
- Allows for superb grip (steering wheels, seat bolsters etc.)
What BMW vehicles use microfiber ultrasuede?
Microfiber is primarily found on its M vehicles (M3, M4, M5 etc). The steering wheels, seats, door panels and headliners are the most common places. Many aftermarket BMW M Performance parts also feature this microfiber fabric.
It seems as time goes on and the microfiber fabric is becoming cheaper to manufacture it is finding its way into lower-end vehicles. Not only for BMW but other lower end brands such as Ford, Chevrolet and VW.