Cork leather is a very unusual material, also known as cork skin. I came across cork skin while researching what alternatives to leather would provide something that came from a more sustainable industry and minimise harm to animals and the environment.
It’s unknown to people because not a lot of companies are using it in a innovative and stylish way. So with my design aesthetic I knew I could make something different and chic.
Cork leather is interesting to look at because the cork grain is irregular, so each section is different. It is soft and smooth to touch, and it feels similar to nubuck leather. It is light weight, water resistant, durable, and flexible, and being a natural product has a uniqueness to each piece.
Long sheets of bark are stripped from the cork oak tree by skilled cork workers. No machines are used, just an axe, arm power and expertise. No trees are harmed or cut down in the harvesting, instead the harvesting helps to regenerate its bark for the next harvest every 9 years. The cork is stacked and left to dry in the open air for 6 months. It is then boiled to make it flexible and easier to work with. Once sorted, and depending on quality and thickness, the pieces are thinly shaved then bonded onto fabric.