Cork Clothing Gets Fashionable
Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal ran a piece on how the Portuguese cork industry is keeping itself afloat as wine manufacturers increasingly turn to plastic stoppers and other alternative closures for their bottles. It seems that the manufacturers targeted companies that used eco-friendly production materials, from furniture makers to architects, promoting cork as a useful, under-utilized material. This led to cork floorings, couches and even wallpapers.
When fashion designers got wind of how versatile the tree bark was and how much less stiff it was than in the past, they began to incorporate it into their lines, adding novelty and an eco-friendly appeal. Instead of simply mimicking the time-honored trend of making cork heels, designers are now making cork clothing. The material, called "cork leather" or "cork fabric," is made of very thin, pliable cork, often coated with Scotchgard to protect it. It costs nearly half of what leather does, as well as offering a similar feel and longevity to the animal skin. It also can be machine washable.
Stuart Weitzman has natural cork pumps and DDC Lab features a cork leather jacket (pictured) for $2,400, as part of their fall lineup. As eco-consciousness is on the rise at the moment, it wouldn't be surprising to see more cork on the runway in the future.