Companies do not make great leathers, families do.

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.

Milton Sokol & Co. honed in on largely ignored businesses such as police accessories, fashion belts, saddlery, hat sweat linings, motorcycle saddle bags, shoe linings and customized footwear.

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.

Demar Leather Company History

The company became well known for heavy vegetable-tanned belting and tooled leathers, which were used extensively in the manufacturing of western belts and boot shafts.

Martin’s daughter, Debbie, joined the firm in the late 1980s, and a few years later, she was joined by her brother, Joseph Sokol. By then, the business was operating on a worldwide platform, with offices in South America, sourcing from Europe, and exporting to the Far East. The new generation recognized that globalization had reached the leather business and that the firm needed to embrace this change.

It became apparent that manufacturing in the US would continue to decline as the bulk of footwear, and other items using leather, were increasingly being sourced from China. Martin correctly anticipated that the production of leather furniture would remain domestic due to product size and shipping costs.

The company then began creating and marketing leathers to the furniture industry under the newly-conceived brand name of Demar Leather Company. At first it focused on the North Carolina furniture industry, but it would not be long before Joe began traveling around the country, establishing a sales network specific to this trade.

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.