It all started in 1927, when Milton Sokol—Grandpa Milton, as we called him—bought and sold his first piece of leather. This took place in a then not-so-nice area of lower Manhattan, commonly referred to as “The Swamp,” better known today as the South Street Seaport. At that time, more than 1,000 companies were involved in the leather trade in lower Manhattan alone.
Then the Great Depression hit and economic activity came to a virtual halt. Despite the challenges, the company not only survived, but Milton actually gained the reputation during those days as someone who faced any problem squarely until an acceptable solution was found.
As the economy recovered, business improved and the demand for leather grew. New York City factories were booming, producing shoes, belts, handbags, wallets, garments, hats, gloves, and even horse tack, all of which required steady supplies of leather. A good living could be had just by servicing the needs of the city’s various trades.
Over the years, the supplier list, as well as the number of customers, have steadily increased. Long before the concept of marketing to niche businesses was taught in business school, it is evident that focusing on specialized leathers for particular end products was necessary in order to survive and prosper.
In the early 1960s, Milton’s son, Martin, joined the firm. By then, customers were no longer able to find everything they needed right in their own neighborhood. Martin began traveling outside New York, especially to Texas and other areas in the southern part of the United States. Western boots, and the accoutrements that went with the cowboy motif, were foreign to most people in the Northeast. Under Martin’s leadership, the company began selling heavily to this western trade. Every pair of boots was matched to a western belt and in 1980, the film, Urban Cowboy, made western fashion mainstream.
In 2000, Joe married Suzy Kamali, who also came from a family with deep roots in the global leather arena. Several years later, Suzy would launch her own line of high-end, modern leathers for the architectural and interior design communities under the Demar Leather banner.
Our raw material is sourced from the finest European hides, while quality control, specifications, finishing, and other topical treatments are completed at our finishing facility in upstate New York. Today, Demar Leather Co. is a world leader in the production of leathers for the hospitality trade and enjoys a well-deserved reputation for consistently delivering the highest-grade leathers with the highest standards of professionalism, service, and ethics.
A lot has changed over the years, but the passion for making great leather and the commitment to outstanding customer service remains the hallmark of our continued journey to success.