Cork Fabric, also called “cork leather” results from harvesting from a cork oak tree.
The cork oak tree - Quercus suber - grows mainly in Portugal where it grows up to 20 meters high. With approximately 2,200,000 hectares of cork forest worldwide (34% in Portugal and 27% in Spain), the annual production is about 200,000 tonnes.
A cork tree takes 25 years to grow enough to a circumference of about 60cm to be harvested. It is then that the cork (bark) is stripped from the tree. The tree takes 9-10 years to recreate the cork and be harvested again. With a lifetime of about 300 years a tree creates a large amount of cork.
Workers who specialize in removing the cork are called extractors. The removal is done with a sharp axe to make vertical cuts to the cork while take care not to damage the underlying phellogen and the tree.
After harvesting the cork is stacked in the factory or the forest and air-dried for six months before carriage to a processor where it is steamed to make the fabric even more elastic. Heat and pressure are applied to the cork to press it into blocks that are cut into slices which are then and flexible with a leather like structure. The fabric can be dyed and printed. Perfect for manufacturing accessories. And importantly, the production of cork fabric does not involve the use of any chemicals.
Cork fabric has many sustainable features:
the cork oak proliferates naturally by dropping acorns that sow themselves and mature into productive grees
when an aged tree is removed after 300 years of existence, 2 new seedinglys are planted in its place
cork products can be easily recycle due to natural production without chemicals
it releases significantly less CO2 than synthetically produced fabrics
Cork leather products are top quality and supple and they won't crack or crumble. They are 100% natural, water repellent, stain resistant and scratch-proof .