In recent years, there’s been a contentious debate in the fashion world between the use of animal (i.e. leather and fur) and synthetic vegan materials. Some say that, while using parts of animals in order to make clothing is neither ethical nor environmentally sound, it is preferable to the plastic alternative. Others vehemently argue the opposite.
This debate brings up complex issues and is not easily solvable, due to opposite interests, however, the rise in vegetable leathers is making this dispute obsolete.
Innovative companies are coming out of the woodwork, introducing a new kind of leather-like material.
The solution to the problem... Cork
Wine is one of the great joys of life, but cork has so many different kinds of applications besides cork wine stoppers and active oak tree forests are now producing a more sustainable future for fashion.
It may be hard to believe that Cork could be used to create luxurious and stylish pieces, yet Cork absolutely have the capability to do so.
Long used as a water-resistant, organic material in floor tiling, cork is widely regarded as being one of the most ecologically friendly materials around.
It’s easily recycled, completely natural, and sourcing from cork oak forests for various industries helps prevent desertification and deforestation.
Mainly harvested from Southern Europe, there is a particular cork forest in the Iberian Peninsula that is essential to the protection of endangered species in the region.
So, shopping for cork products can really help with that its sustainability as an increase on demand help to protect and even grow the oak tree forests, so important in the region.
Cork leather is crafted from the bark of a cork oak tree, and with its naturally waterproof qualities and organic texture, no wonder it has obtained a well-established place in fashion and accessories industry as a true sustainable, eco-friendly and vegan alternative to animal and synthetic leather and we are starting to see cork leather in all kinds of beautiful pieces in fashion.
Benefits of Cork Leather
Vegan & Sustainable
Natural unique finish
Very workable to all different kinds of applications
Highly durable & Waterproof
Stain Resistant & Washable
Great choice for accessories
Making cork leather, however, is a long process.
The tree must be 25 years old before the bark is harvestable and once the bark is removed, it requires another 6 months to completely dry out, ready for production.
This same tree can be harvested multiple times, every 9 years and has an average lifespan of around 250 to 300 years.
After being boiled and steamed, giving it a more flexible feel, the cork is sliced into thin sheets and attached to a supporting fabric, ready for use in the textile and fashion industries.
Much of the cork leather in production is based in Portugal but the product is now being used by fashion and accessories brands all over the world.
Independent vegan fashion brands, such as The Cork Collection, specialising in handbags, purses, wallets and small PETA-Approved Vegan leather cork accessories goods.