The Amazing Cork Leather

September 06, 2021 2 min read

The Amazing Cork Leather

When we hear the word ‘cork’, I bet the first thing that pops into our mind is wine. You are not alone. Most of us are not aware that cork leather is highly versatile, and its commercial potential is enormous. Cork products are 100% natural, eco-friendly, recyclable, biodegradable, cruelty-free, non-allergenic and sustainable. The urgency to address climate change and global warming has given momentum to the cork trend. Several big players in the fashion industry (for example Prada, Stella McCartney) have jumped on the cork bandwagon. Even NASA is in the cork game.

So what exactly is cork leather (which is also known as cork fabric in the vegan leather family)? As the name suggests, it is simply leather made of cork. It is made from the bark of the cork-oak trees. Experienced cork strippers use a specialized cork axe to slit the outer bark and peel it away from the tree by hand. This does not harm the tree. The trees then renew themselves and regenerate new bark. This also allows the tree to live for a very LONG time (~200 years).

Harvested cork-oak tree
bark of cork-oak
There is a long list of uses for cork, which is often used as a vegan leather alternative. Apart from the wine industry, cork is used in fashion, construction, furniture, sports and space, to name a few. Even though the list is already pretty long, we believe that with the advancement of technologies, the potential for cork products is huge.

As consumers are becoming increasingly environmentally conscious, we see more and more shifts to cork leather, especially fashion accessories. A recent survey by Deloitte concluded that sustainability remains a key consideration for consumers in 2021 with 32% of consumers highly engaged with adopting a more sustainable lifestyle.

At Spark Vegan, we are proud to feature the Carleigh handbag, a natural cork handbag, in our collection. Please visit our Natural Collection section for other sustainable handbags.

Fun facts about cork you may not know
  • Anti-static
  • Dust won’t stick to it (perfect for those allergic to dust)
  • Breathable
  • Soft to touch
  • Easy to clean
  • Naturally waterproof
  • Unique pattern. No two pieces of cork leather look the same
  • Harvesting the bark uses only a simple axe without other machinery
  • For the gardeners out there, it can be added to your compost bin
  • Increased carbon consumption during bark regeneration
  • A carbon-negative product
  • Free of chemicals & toxins
  • Vegan of course!
How to maintain your cork bag

 Carleigh handbag

A little TLC (Tender loving care) is enough keep it around for a long time. Here are some tips to increase the lifespan of your cork bag. Cork needs natural cleaning methods as it is a natural product.

Simply spot treat it using a wet/damp cloth and gently wipe it until the dirt or stain disappears. If there is a large patch of stain, it can be safely immersed in warm water (it is waterproof, remember) for a gentle wash with a natural soap. DO NOT use chemical or acid cleaning soap on your bag. Unlike leather, no oil is required either. Let it air dry, but away from direct sunlight.

That’s it. You are good to go!

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