The term "Corinthian leather" refers to a type of leather used in the interior of certain Chrysler vehicles. What makes Corinthian leather different from any other type of leather is under dispute, but no one denies the phrase's marketing success. The term originated from a 1970s Chrysler marketing campaign.
The term first appeared in 1974 to describe the leather used in certain luxury Chrysler vehicles, including the Chrysler Imperial and Chrysler Cordoba. The Bozell marketing company invented the term. The phrase has nothing to do with the city of Corinth, Greece, but marketers might have picked it to invoke the city's high living standards, inducing a feeling of luxury among those who own Corinthian leather.
The term was simply a marketing ploy. The spokesman for Corinthian leather-equipped cars at the time, Ricardo Montalban, even went as far as saying that there was virtually no difference between Corinthian leather and standard leather. It is also hinted that "Corinthian" is simply the trade name for domestically produced leather.
There is indeed a slight difference between Corinthian leather and standard leather, according to some sources. The St. Petersburg Times reports that Corinthian leather is actually a combination of vinyl and leather. This gives the material a plush quality and also makes it much easier to care for than pure leather.
The term has fallen out of general usage, and Chrysler no longer markets "fine Corinthian leather." However, some furniture companies take advantage of the name and use it for their own leather products. There is even a furniture company called Corinthian Furniture.