It’s with great pride that we launch our new line of green vegan leather cork products today. It’s been a long road to get to this stage and it’s only the beginning. What started as a men’s leather bag line has evolved into the sustainable and unique product we have today.
Our initial mission was to make men’s bags and accessories that were interesting, stylish and functional. We made a few rounds of samples and they looked great. We really wanted to add a non leather version too as half our team is vegetarian (that would be me) and we know there are a lot of customers who would be really appreciative of a stylish vegan bag that didn’t scream ‘granola’ and wasn’t made of petroleum products.
It was that second caveat that was the hurdle. After months of research and experimentation, we came across the cork products. Our first supplier was in China, while they had decent options, it still felt a little off. Then we found our supplier in Italy. The samples they shipped us made us drool, they had all the style and sex appeal of leather with none of the downsides.
Great, now we have our two options, right? Well, no. Throughout the lengthy research process I uncovered so much ghastly information about the leather industry I was sickened. The thought of using this product that was one of the worst polluters on the planet, that left many sick or dying from working with the chemicals to produce it, that destroyed ancient forests to turn into grazing land, well you get the idea, the list was long and none of it positive.
As I was reading all of these horror stories about animal leather, I was falling more in love with the cork leather. Our contractors loved it, it is so thin and tough it has more versatility than the animal hides (we could never have laser cut the cow hide in such a precise and delicate manner). I began to read more about the product and became fascinated with how it was grown and harvested. Here we have an industry that remains virtually unchanged for the last several hundred years. Family groves are passed down, the tools are hand made, the same trees loyally supply a new harvest every 9 years, this was a revelation to us. The real kicker was when it became clear this old peaceful tradition was in real danger. The wine industry was running from the cork like the forests were burning. The farmers were suffering. Worst of all the forests were endangered, the land was starting to be coveted for other crops and for grazing lands. These forests we learned are home to some of the worlds most endangered species, including the worlds rarest cat, the Iberian lynx.
That did it, that was the nail in the ol’ leather coffin. We sat down and looked at where we were, a total shift in materials would mean starting over on the bag line, but it was clearly worth it. We would end up with a product that was interesting, very lightweight, far more durable and best of all, it was not only ecologically responsible, it was actually beneficial!
So that’s how we got to this day, we are launching this small but awesome collection of mens and women’s accessories. This gets us running, the bags are coming soon. We know once you feel this material and see how strong and durable it is, you’ll be like us, you’ll never look at animal leather the same way again.