From Bark to Wallet: How Cork Fabric is Made?


In the last few years, we have seen how cork fabric became a strong alternative to leather (a material that is making a lost-lasting, irreversible damage to our world). The leather problem isn’t exclusively related to the global-scale slaughter of cattle but also involves the use of highly hazardous chemicals that are harming the environment.

Cork fabric has shown as a sustainable solution to the leather problem, replacing this material in the fashion industry, the sector that demands the biggest amount of leather. Even Bentley, a luxury carmaker, used this eco-friendly material in its high-end SUV, the Bentayga.

But despite the growth in popularity of this fantastic material, do we know how it gets created before becoming a fashionable vegan wallet? Most people don’t.

In order to successfully replace leather with cork fabric, we need to understand how the material is made. The creation of a cork wallet involves more than simple patching and sewing. There is a whole process behind, one that is incredibly conscious towards nature.

Cork Oak Tree Harvesting

The first step is harvesting the bark from the cork oak tree. This type of tree is quite common in the Iberian Peninsula, France, and North Africa. This step of the process is the same for manufacturers that work with other cork-based products, so there is a massive industry around it.

Now, what is most surprising about harvesting the cork oak tree is that it doesn’t suffer massive damage like in other cases. A single cork oak tree can be easily harvested multiple times while continuing a healthy living. Because this tree has an average life expectancy of 200 years, it can be harvested every ten years. This means that even the harvesting process is eco-friendly and no tree is being killed to make a vegan wallet.

Boiling Process

After the workers use machetes and bars to properly harvest the cork oak trees, the material is taken to the manufacturer’s facilities, where the right equipment is in place. The cork bark, our raw material, is introduced in containers with boiling water.

What boiling water does is to alter the cell structure of cork, expanding them to create a more manageable material. This way, professionals have more freedom to treat the cork as needed. It’s important to mention that only water is used during the boiling process; no chemicals like in the case of leather.

Sheet Cutting and Gluing

The workers now proceed to shave the boiled cork until they get very thin sheets. After that, other materials like polyester are glued to the sheets in order to increase durability. Several layers of cork sheets are used during this step, something we can notice in the final appearance of a cork wallet, for example.

Coating

Finally, most manufacturers like to coat cork fabric to keep it always clean. That’s why we see how a cork wallet maintains its brand-new overall appearance for longer. This material is naturally resistant to water, so no dangerous chemicals are used for the coating.

The Bottom Line

For those who are getting to get a vegan wallet, purse, or any other accessory, it’s great to know where this eco friendly material comes from. The main perk of this process is that it maintains our environment in good conditions.

We are doing a massive favour to our planet by choosing a cork wallet over a leather one. During the following decades, we will feel the impact of the choices we take today, even in the simplest situations as choosing a fashion accessory.

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