Why we’re INLUv with cork
Cork is not what it used to be. The omnipresent plastic might have taken this material from the spotlight in the past. Now, the same plastic is rescuing it, enabling the creation of new and surprising transformations. In Portugal, the biggest cork producer in the world, this organic material started as an ally, protecting the Portuguese caravels in the golden centuries of discoveries. But it’s so much more than that.
You’ll fall in love with cork because:
1. It’s a matter of time (and love)
It’s impossible to imitate what nature takes years preparing so perfectly. 44 years go by before we can obtain high quality cork form a cork oak tree. From each tree we can harvest an average of 50 kilos of raw material. This manual process requires know-how, dexterity and lots of love;
2. It’s biodegradable
Besides being recyclable, cork is also a biodegradable material. Being hydrophobic means it takes a bit more time to biodegrade than other types of wood;
3. The environment thanks you
The oak is the tree that absorbs more CO2. This process continues even after the material has been used in other products. Even better news: the uncorked trees absorb three to five times more CO2 than the others. Human intervention has a positive impact on the environment;
4. Oak trees can live up to 300 years
The cork oak tree thrives in Mediterranean climates such as the Portuguese, the Spanish and the Italian. An oak tree can live up to 300 years, if uncorked. A great example is the Portuguese Assobiador, a 234 year old tree planted in Águas de Moura village, in Palmela, the winner of this year’s 8th edition of the European Tree of the Year prize;
5. Nothing is lost, everything is transformed
Cork is totally recyclable and biodegradable, not producing any toxic residues. The leftover pieces are reused, grinded into conglomerate or dust, as fuel to factories.
Cork has other features that go together perfectly with the fashion industry: its breathability, durability and lightness. International luxury brands like Christian Louboutin, Diane von Furstenberg, Stella McCartney, Prada, Chloé, Jimmy Choo, Dior, Gucci or Yves Saint Laurent have selected cork as a sustainable material. Using it in shoemaking, jewellery and clothes has shown the world that cork can be sexy.
What other positive features does cork bring to shoes?
6. It’s comfortable
Cork is an extremely light material, hypoallergenic, airy, elastic and soft to the touch, water, fire, spots and odour resistant, possessing also antibacterial properties while guaranteeing thermal isolation. Also, it’s very easy to maintain;
7. It’s unique
Technological advances are occurring as we speak, but no other fabricated material can cover all of the unique features of cork. Its matter consists of a beehive-like microscopic structure filled with a gas identical to air;
8. It’s versatile
Because of its adaptability, easiness of moulding and cutting, cork has been chosen to be part of numerous projects in distinct areas such as design, architecture or engineering. Cutting edge technology uses cork to enhance product’s performance or comfort. Great examples are the inclusion of the material in the interior of Mercede-Benz’s F700 prototype; the testing of cork on bullet proof equipment; or its use on the cladding of spaceships by NASA and the International Space Agency. Fashion brands print diverse colours, patterns or textures to the tissue. Granorte factory has joined INLU since the beginning of the journey and it is a priceless partner, creating with us some unique colours, exclusive to Darwinesque’s collection.
Architecturally, cork has made some unforgettable appearances, such as the Pavilhão de Portugal, at Shanghai Expo, a pavilion that was awarded with the “Design Prize”, given by the Bureau International des Exhibitions; cork is also being used on the cladding of Gaudí’s Sagrada Família (Barcelona); or even on a great dimensions piece made by Vhils, a Portuguese artist that used cork conglomerate as a way of paying an homage to the industry;
9. It’s sustainable
The sustainable and chemical free material answers to the buyer’s environmental issues. It’s a “green” alternative to animal origin leathers and plastics;
10. Let lose creativity
Cork lets lose the creativity of several brands that push it to another level of quality. Corks, rings, bracelets, bags, shoes, umbrellas, wallets, jackets, caps, chairs, tables, chandeliers, rugs, you can say that space is the limit of this mouldable raw material that starts off so many different products.
For cork to be ready to be transformed into tissue and reinterpreted by INLU’s hands one has to wait for 44 years. But you can know check how it looks like. Get to know more about INLU's collection, and about how we innovated on the use of cork and leather.