Our Cork fabric – used in the The Swift in
Cork, the Swiftette in Cork and Clear Organizer Wallet in Cork (both debuting Monday), Cork Sleeve for
Amazon Kindle, Cork Organizer Pouches, and the Imago – has become
one of our favorite materials.
First and foremost, visually and texturally it’s a stunning material. Our Cork
fabric is made from real cork wood from trees grown in Portugal. Every
inch of Cork fabric is completely unique due to the natural variances in
the cork wood from which it is made, ensuring no two TOM BIHN bags in Cork are alike.
Each varying pattern tells a little of the story of the tree from which it came.
src="http://www.tombihn.com/blogimages/swiftetteblog.jpg" alt="TOM BIHN
Cork Fabric After 5 Years" width="249" height="300">
Above: a photo of the Swiftette in Cork, a smaller version of our Swift in Cork. The Swiftette debuts Monday for pre-order.
Cork fabric is strong, durable, and naturally
water/pet hair/stain resistant. You might first think of wine bottle corks – though both are produced from the same trees, our cork fabric is much different. It has a supple hand similar to leather.
We’ve subjected our Cork fabric to our own creative tests (such as
strapping it to a bicycle for two months of winter commuting)
as have customers ( href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/34707625@N04/4153664256/">see ex
machina’s video demonstrating the flexibility of cork here). The
verdict? Other than a natural darkening of the cork material over time,
it’s tough stuff – stronger than some of the synthetic materials that other
manufacturers use, though not quite as strong as our 1000d Cordura or
1050d ballistic nylon.
href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cork_Oak">Bark is harvested from cork
trees (Quercus suber) every nine to twelve years – without
killing or harming the tree. Planted in 1783, oldest – and most
productive – cork tree in the world is known as the href="http://www.corkfacts.com/nchoice3.htm">Whistler Tree because
it serves as a home for many songbirds. Cork is recyclable,
biodegradable and renewable. Cork forests in Portugal provide habitat
for a wide variety of birds and animals, including the Iberian Lynx, the
most critically threatened feline in the world. ( href="http://www.tombihn.com/blog/node/1168">The fad in recent times of
wine makers replacing corks with screw-top caps has threatened the cork
forests – and the animals who make those forests their homes by
potentially forcing the cork farmers to replace their cork forests with
fast-growing eucalyptus or neglect them entirely.) Pretty much every
part of a cork tree is eventually put to good use, including its acorns
and leaves. It’s good for people, too: href="http://www.eurostrategies.talktalk.net/cif/news.htm">the cork
industry in Portugal employes about 14,000 people.
course, the true test of our Cork fabric is time. Below is a photo of a
Archetype in Cork (a bag we no longer make) prototype that has been used
daily for the past five years. You’ll notice the slight darkening
natural to the cork fabric. Other than that, it shows little signs of
src="http://www.tombihn.com/blogimages/corksixyears.jpg" alt="TOM BIHN
Cork Fabric After 5 Years" width="450" height="239">