Cork Fabric 101: Different Cork Fabric Qualities

Cork Fabric 101: Different Cork Fabric Qualities

Cork comes from the bark of the cork tree known as Quercus Suber. Cork oak trees can live over 200 years. Cork forests absorb 14.7 tons of CO2 per hectare. While growing, cork trees do not need to be watered. No pesticides or fertilizers are used and, when it comes to treating the cork after harvesting, the strategy is the same.

Harvesting only occurs once they reach maturity (~ 25 years in age) and then, only every 9 years after that. Typically, it takes 2-3 extractions before cork has enough quality to be transformed into a fashion accessory. No trees are ever cut down. In fact, after harvest and bark starts growing again, these trees consume up to 5x more carbon from the atmosphere.

How to recognize durable and high quality cork fabric

❌ Cork agglomerate material is the cheapest cork textile and believe us... there’s a reason for it. The cork granules will eventually flake away little by little.

❌ The cork stripe fabric is composed of homogeneous sliced planks of cork bark bound together into a block and then cut into thin slices. The stripes are often cut from the leftovers of the wine stoppers industry. The thin stripes are glued together but since you end up with so many horizontal endpoints, products made from these break apart very easily at these connection points, making their lifespan very short. As it is cheaper to produce and widely available, many unethical businesses based in third world countries are making products with this fabric by the millions. The backing of this cork fabric is normally a plastic mesh and it is dyed normally with chemical compounds.

✅ Premium cork fabric is created from cubes of cork cut directly from the bark. It looks and feels smooth like suede but it is cruelty-free! These cubes are then sliced into long and wide sheets. Skilled workers will cut by hand any irregularities in the cork fabric and then bound by hand with a cotton baking. By pressing both layers together the cork releases a resin that effectively binds them into a waterproof and durable fabric. On top of that, higher quality cork fabric is made of the less porous cork bark possible! And less pores, means a higher degree of durability. Since the backing is made of cotton, the products are also extremely flexible.

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1 comment

A very complete and interesting article. I learned a lot of things about cork! I thought it must be derived from wood!


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