Posted By RichC on April 18, 2012
In the late 60s and 70s, polyester clothing was popular (think leisure suits) and plastics were making their way in to products that were traditionally made of natural materials. Back then, we would joke about ranchers herding up the wild “Naugas” to fill the demand for naugahyde (the pleather of the day). But the fake leather of those years was more akin to vinyl and took on so many negative connotations that people went out of their way to buy “genuine” leather products.
Most people I know still frown at vinyl for clothing and products, but the synthetic look-a-like leather qualities have improved. I still see it as something to avoid and a sign of lessor quality, but recognize the improvements (ventilation, perforations, etc.) I am also noticing that it is getting harder to find “genuine” leather and the fake stuff seems to be making a comeback.
Could it have something to do with the animal rights movement or a new marketing push? I’ve notice more and more being used and accepted, even if the material has a few environmental downsides. Marketers have rebranded faux leather as Vegan Leather, Leatherette and Koskin … and I’m finding it everywhere . It might be time to start up the “Save the Nauga” campaign again. (really though, it use is bugging me in automotive seats … and it is hard to find a new Volkswagen with leather seats)
Naugahyde is made from skins of the Nauga, an odd yet engagingly friendly creature native to Sumatra. (link)
More history below …
This is only an introduction to Nauga history. There is more to come. Look for new articles on Naugas’ culinary preferences, customs and traditions of Naugas around the world, and other Nauga facts and trivia!
The small chameleon-like animals known as Naugas™ have long been known as the source of beautiful and durable fabrics that look like fine, soft leather. And since Naugas shed their hydes without harm to themselves, the fabrics they help make came to be known as Naugahyde®, The Cruelty Free Fabric™.
Despite the popularity of these little animals and their hydes, little is known of their origins and how they first came to America.
Some researchers say Naugas™ are native to the island of Sumatra. Ancient Nauga artifacts recently found near the Coliseum in Rome have, however, cast doubt on this theory.
One prominent historian believes the first Naugas arrived in America in 1778 when they delivered designer clothes from France to George Washington’s Continental Army. Others suggest they arrived far earlier, pointing out an abandoned tenth century Viking settlement that was recently unearthed in Newfoundland. Among the tantalizing evidence is the discovery of two Nauga names, Olaf the Red and Erik the Navy Blue, on a fragment of stone tablet at the site.
But like most immigrants many Naugas simply arrived with little more than their hydes on their backs and a willingness to work hard for a better future.
Before long Naugas™ were succeeding in many industries and professions.
Thomas Maroon built a nationwide chain of dry-cleaning shops.
Catherine Orange completed the first solo transatlantic flight by a Nauga in 1932.
Cornelius VanderNauga inspired an entire generation of Naugas to excel when he authored The Horatio Nauga Story, a quasi-autobiographical account of a young Nauga who found that fame and fortune could be within anyone’s grasp.
Author F. Scott Fitzgerald acknowledged his literary debt to VanderNauga in his memoirs when he noted that, "…as much as one might find fault with the premises underpinning VanderNauga’s writings, his advice on always having a ‘thick skin’ when it comes to criticism is as fresh today as when it was written."
In VanderNauga’s later years he continued to follow his own advice and amassed a fortune that rivaled those of Henry Ford and John D. Rockefeller by convincing his fellow Naugas to shed their hydes for the automotive seating and home furniture markets.
Among VanderNauga’s charitable legacies is the VanderNauga Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports aspiring artists and house painters around the world.
Despite their small stature, Naugas™ have been closely associated with sports in America for more than one hundred years. What they often lacked in athletic skills was more than offset by sheer determination, and their ability to shed their hydes in order to provide uniforms for their teammates.
Naugas became especially popular around colleges, where they attended sporting events in large numbers. Their habit of attending games with their hydes matching the home team’s colors is thought by some observers to be the first verifiable instance of fans dressing in team colors on game days.
The list of Naugas in sports is too long to mention here, but includes many well-known shortstops and right-fielders in professional baseball, and multiple medal winners in the Olympics–mostly in synchronized swimming events.
Nick "Red" Nauga, holder of football’s all-time point scoring record, was a charter Hall of Fame inductee. Unfortunately, Nick retired a bitter Nauga after football’s decision to place an asterisk next to his scoring record. The asterisk noted that nearly all of Nick’s points were scored while he was holding on to successful field goals and extra points as they sailed through the air.
Until the early 1900’s Naugas™ were hunted to near extinction in many parts of the world. Even in America, Nauga hunts were a common occurrence well into the 1800’s. It was only after widespread newspaper reports of hunters aboard moving trains shooting Naugas for sport and leaving untold thousands dead and dying along the railroad tracks that public outrage brought an end to the slaughter.
In 1905 President Theodore Roosevelt signed legislation that gave Naugas the right to vote. Arguing for passage of the "Nauga Amendment" before a rare joint session of Congress, Roosevelt declared, "You must not vote for this bill because it is right, but because it is the right thing to do." As applause echoed through Congress, Roosevelt swept a nearby Nauga up in his arms, smiled broadly, and turned toward a waiting bank of newspaper photographers.
The photograph of Roosevelt and the unidentified Nauga was on the front pages of newspapers across the country. In the Nauga mania that followed, enterprising toy manufacturers began making "Teddy Naugas," small stuffed Nauga replicas wearing wire rim eyeglasses in the distinctive Roosevelt style.
In spite of the violence that many Nauga families had experienced in years past, and the fact that Naugas are invariably pacifists, Naugas have consistently donated their hydes in order to make jackets, gloves, and other essential items whenever their country called upon them.
In retrospect, the years following the second World War were the start of a golden age for Nauga™ culture. Some thirty-five million Naugas were born between 1946 and 1964, a time period often referred to as the "Nauga Boom."
Not typically known to be rebellious, millions of young Naugas nonetheless found themselves in the forefront of a generational wave that changed everything in its wake; music, art, and life in general would never be the same again.
During the 1950’s Naugas packed theaters every weekend night to listen to Nauga musicians that would soon become Rock and Roll legends. Elvis Paisley and Chuck Raspberry played such favorites as "Blue Naugahyde® Shoes" to capacity crowds.
Typical notions of what constituted art were turned upside down as Nauga artists crashed upon the scene in a creative burst of color and texture unlike anything that had proceeded it. Modern Art finally achieved legitimacy with general audiences through the works of Nauga-inspired artists such as Picasso and Dali. Following a landmark exhibition of paintings by Nauga artists at the Museum of Modern Art in 1972, one art critic wrote, "it is only now, with so many works by Nauga artists in one place, that I can even begin to comprehend the scope of the revolution that has altered the very way we see our world."
But like so much of history, a few Naugas became famous and powerful while the majority took care of the tasks that constituted the bulk of their day-to-day existence: work, school, and dreams of better things for their children.
In the field of science and technology Naugas have often labored in obscurity due to an unusual string of bad luck. Among the famous inventions of not-so-famous Nauga inventors are vending machines that accept bent and foreign coins, the rotary engine, and ambidextrous coffee cups.
No Nauga has experienced greater misfortune than astronaut Milton "Buzz" Nauga. Owing to an unfortunate incident involving a clogged hair dryer, "Buzz" narrowly missed becoming the first American to walk on the moon. Little more than a footnote in history books today (because no one can ever remember that he was the second American to reach the moon), "Buzz" is content to endorse automotive oil additives on television and play golf with former U.S. presidents.
In appreciation for the value that Naugas™ provide to them when they shed their hydes, a consortium of companies that produce products made from Naugahyde fabric established an extensive benefits program for Naugas in 1975. Funded with a contribution made for each hyde shed, the Nauga Defense Fund (or NDF) plays a central role in making sure that Naugas are protected and cared for throughout their lives.
The NDF Legal Program was instrumental in passing laws prohibiting the testing of cosmetics on Naugas.
NDF funded retirement villages throughout the country help to ensure that Naugas can spend their retirement years in secure and comfortable surroundings.