Cork leather goods. A unique know-how for a trendy material.
★ The origin of cork
Cork is a material coming from the bark of some trees and mainly from the bark of cork oak. The tree produces a thick bark that protects it from insects, cold and bad weather while allowing it to breathe.
The particularity is that the tree has the ability to renew its bark when it is removed so barking does not require cutting down the tree.
The first debarking can be done on a tree aged 20 to 25 years. These then produce a black, cracked, hard and low-value cork called "male cork". It is only after these first debarkings, called demasking, that the tree produces a more regular, more flexible bark that can then be used in industry or crafts. The cork thus produced is then called "female cork".
The reproduction period of cork on a debarked tree is 9 to 15 years depending on the geographical regions. The average lifespan of a cork oak is 150 years, so a tree produces 12 to 15 cork barks during its lifetime.
The qualities of cork
It is a lightweight material that weighs only 0.16 grams per cm3 and is very easily compressible up to 1/3 of its initial volume and, moreover, it is elastic, i.e. it returns to its initial shape after compression.
Cork is a material that is resistant to fire, temperature changes, humidity and is impermeable to water and gases, making it an excellent thermal and acoustic insulator.
★ The main uses of cork
Nevertheless, all these properties, combined in a natural material, make cork precious for various applications, some of which are unexpected.
Its lightweight and non-flammable properties allow it to replace the PVC used in the manufacture of aircraft fuselages in an advantageous way. It is also used in the space industry to manufacture heat shields.
The recent invention of cork fabric has revolutionized the fashion sector and made cork an excellent substitute to leather from animals for the creation and manufacture of accessories such as leather goods, of course, but also jewellery and fashion accessories.
★ Cork leather goods
Harvesting cork does not hurt the tree and does not require cutting it down. The manufacturing process, therefore, fits perfectly into a philosophy of sustainable development and corresponds to the Vegan movement by positioning itself as an excellent alternative to animal leather.
Tear-proof, flexible, light, rainproof, easily washable, cork is a material that also appeals to its users: the largest cork bags remain very light and waterproof, the wallets and purses made of cork transferred from bags to bags remain insensitive to snags that usually mark leather, the earrings or bracelets do not weigh, do not mark the skin and can be worn without any problem.