Cork: get to know the properties that bring it close to perfection
Ok, you want to know what’s all the buzz about cork. Why did it become so trendy? What makes it so special? Well, when it comes to cork, here at Montado we always risk becoming exhausting. This is our passion, it’s almost inevitable. So, to make this reading easier for you, we decided to make a list.
9 reasons to pick a cork-made fashion accessory
1. Cork is 100% Natural
Yes. One-Hundred-Percent. What is cork? It’s the bark of the amazing cork oak tree, classified as Portugal’s National Tree. Its logging is forbidden across the country. That’s “just” what cork is: a 100% organic and totally eco-friendly raw material that we use to make bags, wallets, shoes, and other products. Sometimes we think it’s a small miracle from nature. The rest of the time we’re sure of it.
2. It’s a sustainable material
No tree is cut down or damaged to get cork. Each cork oak tree lives on average between 150 and 200 years and cork harvest is made on nine-year cycles. If you do the math, each cork oak tree supplies cork over 50 times. In other words, cork is a renewable raw material. Grandparents, parents, children, grandchildren… How many generations live through 150 years?
3. Light as a feather
So light it actually floats. Over 50% of cork’s volume is made of air. Yes, air. Cork weighs only 0.16g per cubic centimeter. If your bag looks more like Sport Billy’s bag (remember him?), the last thing you want is that it’s heavy even when it’s empty. With cork that’s not an issue, it’s light as a feather.
4. It’s elastic and resistant
A bag made with a raw material that has 50% of its volume made of air? We understand the skepticism but the truth is that cork is a unique raw material. Cork can handle great pressure without breaking, by simply stretching and coming back to its original shape when the pressure disappears. This is called elastic memory. The resistance of the material results from that compressibility and elasticity – it is the only solid material which can be compressed on one side while maintaining its original format on the other.
5. It’s resistant to moisture and impermeable
The walls of cork cells are covered in suberin and ceroids, making cork practically impermeable to liquids and gases. In addition, its great resistance to moisture avoids oxidation and decay, allowing it to age without deteriorating. Just because it’s a natural product don’t think that your bag is going to wear out quicker, on the contrary.
6. It’s extremely smooth
There’s not much to say about this property. If you have had a piece of cork on your hand, you know exactly what we’re talking about and this is one of the most exciting things of this incredible material. Touching a cork object is a pleasure for your fingers.
7. It’s resistant to fire
Portuguese know this well. The catastrophe of forest fires, devastating our country every summer, usually affects eucalyptus and pine forests but hardly reaches the “Montados” (cork oak forest landscapes) because cork is a natural fire retardant. Additionally, it doesn’t produce toxic gases during combustion. Replacement of eucalyptus for new “Montado” areas as a way of preventing forest fires is a consensual measure among experts in the field.
8. Comfortable and hypoallergenic
The microscopic gas pads that form its cells make cork an extremely comfortable material. Cork also has a unique ability to absorb impact and relieve pressure over joints and spine. But there’s more: the natural temperature of cork is very similar to that of the human body, thus contributing to increase the sense of comfort. Cork is also almost odorless and products that use cork don’t acquire unpleasant smells. Finally, cork does not absorb dust and helps to prevent allergies.
9. It’s easy to clean
This is not a minor feature. Due to its impermeability, cork products are very easy to clean. All it takes is a damp cloth and a pH-neutral detergent, such as soap, to get the job done. The quality and beauty of cork is ensured regardless of the number of times the product is washed. And we know too well that this is not the case with every material.
We promised to try our best not to become exhausting, so we’ll stop here. Are you convinced about getting a cork bag? Perhaps a wallet? Or a pair of sneakers? This raw material is so perfect that up to today no industrial or technological process was able to replicate it.
In Portugal, we’ve been using cork for centuries to make cork stoppers for the finest wines across the world. We’re the world’s greatest cork exporter and we’re proud of it. We want to take it to the world. At Montado, we do it through fashion accessories: bags, wallets, shoes, belts…. Made of cork, with art. For you.