Detroit: One auto supplier is taking the term "ready to wear" to a whole new level. Inteva Products LLC commissioned a fashion designer to produce four gowns using the same thermoplastic material the maker of engineered components and systems places in the instrument panel surface of a number of General Motors Co. vehicles.
The results were on display during a recent pop-up fashion show at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Four models outfitted with formal dresses made from Inteva's Inteather material strutted up and down a carpeted area, passing by dumbfounded auto show attendees as well as the GMC Yukon and Sierra, both of which feature instrument panel exteriors made of Inteather, a thermoplastic olefin material.
Inteather has the appearance of traditional leather, but Inteva says it weighs less, lasts longer, and is recyclable. Inteva's Ken Gassman, who leads the team responsible for the commercial use of Inteather, was on hand to see the models in action. He says the designer, Ferndale-based Janna Coumoundouros, did a "phenomenal job" creating the gowns.
Coumoundouros says people are taken aback by the texture of the dresses, because "it looks like hard leather, but when they touch it, it's really soft."
"Even though it's automotive material, they're very elegant," she said. "They have a really classic, beautiful look to them, too, so people are very, very surprised when they find out what the material is."