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Thread: Update on Cork fabric

  1. #16
    TOM BIHN Crew (we work here) Darcy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by quacksalve View Post
    Is the company working toward resolving the problems -- should we hold out any hope?
    Sad to say we don't have an update… not yet, anyhow.
    Current Carry: Skookum Dog Citizen Canine prototype, Founder's Briefcase (every day carry), Small Cafe Bag (every day carry), Shop Bags (groceries, extra random stuff), Aeronaut 45 (travel), Synapse 19 (day hikes), Smart Alec (longer day hikes), Skookum Dog Road Duffel (Medium) (travel), Clear Organizer Wallet, Travel Stuff Sacks, Organizer Cubes

  2. #17
    Registered User Mausermama's Avatar
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    As one who really loves cork, I'm hoping that a solution will eventually be found, and we'll again be able to order cork products! They are lovely! I'm holding my Navy/Cork Imago just a little tighter these days, as both the cork and the Imago have gone the way of the dinosaur.

  3. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darcy View Post
    Sad to say we don't have an update… not yet, anyhow.

    I come back to visit the site every few weeks or so to check... Is there any update on the cork fabric? It seems to me that if there'd been a manufacturing defect, we'd only have to wait until they created a new lot - if they'd made it successfully before, surely they could do it again. I'm interested in hearing the progress.

  4. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Julep View Post
    I come back to visit the site every few weeks or so to check... Is there any update on the cork fabric? It seems to me that if there'd been a manufacturing defect, we'd only have to wait until they created a new lot - if they'd made it successfully before, surely they could do it again. I'm interested in hearing the progress.
    Sad to say that your conclusions are not necessarily true. For example, what if the supplier changed their basic manufacturing process in order to lower production costs at the expense of a much higher defect rate that many of their customers decide to simply accept and that the manufacturer decides is an acceptable economic trade-off? What if their own supply sources have changed, and they are having difficulty with quality control from the individuals who are harvesting the base material? I have the impression that the decision to discontinue use of the Cork was not simply made on the basis of receiving one bad batch that everyone expected to be "made good" immediately in the next production run. I would really like to see a return of Cork, but I suspect this is not a simple decision.

  5. #20
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    Ugh. My cork swift (original design, I may add) is having some splitting issues. If the issue continued, I wanted to replace it. Evidently, no.
    [FONT="Garamond"]Imago in cocoa/cocoa/wasabi, Medium Cafe Bag in plum/wasabi, Swift in cork, Little Swift in Verde/Verde/Ultraviolet, LCB in Linen/Olive.

  6. #21
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    From Wikipedia, the complexity of cork harvesting: There are about 2,200,000 hectares of cork forest world wide; 34% in Portugal and 27% in Spain. Annual production is about 200,000 tons; 49.6% from Portugal, 30.5% from Spain, 5.8% from Morocco, 4.9% from Algeria, 3.5% from Tunisia, 3.1% Italy, and 2.6% from France.[3]

    Once the trees are about 25 years old the cork is traditionally stripped from the trunks every nine years, with the first two harvests generally producing lower quality cork. Cork is extracted only from early May to late August, when the cork can be separated from the tree without causing permanent damage. When the tree reaches 25–30 years of age and about 24in (60 cm) in circumference, the cork can be removed for the first time. Subsequent extractions usually occur at intervals of 9 years, though it can take up to 13 for the cork to reach an acceptable size."

    The trees live for about 200 years."

    Extractors need to be highly skilled in order not to damage the tree when they harvest the cork, which means that they probably go through apprenticeship.

    In many parts of Portugal, January 2005 was the driest January in more than 100 years. That was 9 years ago, right on time for a new harvest this year, but since trees do not grow much during a drought, their bark was probably not thick enough for harvest, this summer.

    It is a natural fabric, so its very nature is variable, it is gorgeous and sustainable but the process of making it into a fabric as soft but thinner than Ultrasuede must be very complicated.

  7. #22
    Registered User binje's Avatar
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    Target has cork lampshades for people who need a fix.

  8. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by cancoi View Post
    Ugh. My cork swift (original design, I may add) is having some splitting issues. . . .
    Mine (also an early batch) has some delamination. The cork that peels off gets crumbly.

  9. #24
    Registered User adalangdon's Avatar
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    Ditto in respect of my pouches. I will get bricked for saying this, but at the rate my pouches are flaking... I'm glad the fabric got discontinued. Those were some serious quality issues there!

  10. #25
    Registered User bltkmt's Avatar
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    Not to bash, but I always thought this was a strange fabric choice. Then again, I have never seen it in person.
    --------------------------------

  11. #26
    Registered User monkeylady's Avatar
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    OMG, it is quite beautiful. I have a cork TB wallet and have had no problems with flaking. But as I read this thread, I wonder if that's because the wallet gets
    handled so much and stays pliable from the transfer of skin oils. The down side so far is that the clear pane needs cleaning, no doubt because of hand oils, but I cannot wash the wallet, and so far, I have not screwed up the courage to try the rubbing alcohol method.
    The stockpile keeps growing...I'm in serious trouble.

  12. #27
    TOM BIHN Crew (we work here) Darcy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cancoi View Post
    Ugh. My cork swift (original design, I may add) is having some splitting issues. If the issue continued, I wanted to replace it. Evidently, no.
    Aw, that's no good, cancoi. Do emailus@tombihn.com and send us photos of your Swift so we can take a look.

    And apologies to everyone else that it's taken us this long to provide an official update, but it's only been in the last few weeks that we felt we've exhausted all options and gathered enough information to make a call. And that is what you've probably guessed: no more cork, at least for the foreseeable future. Here's why:

    The biggest thing is that we haven't been able to find a supplier of cork material that is responsive and able to provide us with a consistently quality material. The best of the bunch of suppliers we were talking with (sadly) went out of business and even their cork wasn't exactly what we were envisioning.

    And, additionally: cork is a natural material -- it's made from tree bark. We all know that, and it's one of the things that we love about the fabric. But because it's a natural material, because, in effect, a tree is deciding what its particular pattern will be, or how many dark spots vs. light spots it has, there's no guarantees as to the consistency of its look, or even of its feel. And while it's certainly a very durable material, it's not going to ever be as durable as materials like our 1050d ballistic nylon. It's likely to, flaws or not, show its wear much sooner, and in ways that might be unexpected by those of us who are accustomed to bags made out of ballistic nylon and Cordura.

    So, because of all of that -- and because of the minor flaws that we found in a previous batch of the fabric that -- we've decided it's best to retire Cork as a fabric.

    And we're as sad about this as you are! I continue to use -- and cherish -- my Little Swift in Cork. I agree it'd be awesome to see some of our newer designs in Cork. And who knows, maybe someday we will. We avoid saying "never" around here, especially when we're talking about materials/design/that kind of stuff, as there's so much innovation going on in those realms that we're privy to that it's difficult for us to do anything but imagine there's going to be more possibilities in the future.
    Current Carry: Skookum Dog Citizen Canine prototype, Founder's Briefcase (every day carry), Small Cafe Bag (every day carry), Shop Bags (groceries, extra random stuff), Aeronaut 45 (travel), Synapse 19 (day hikes), Smart Alec (longer day hikes), Skookum Dog Road Duffel (Medium) (travel), Clear Organizer Wallet, Travel Stuff Sacks, Organizer Cubes

  13. #28
    Registered User dorayme's Avatar
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    Well said Darcy! I love that your commitment is to the best products, and rather than offer something that would draw customers, but disappoint due to quality, your stand is that until the product can meet your quality standards, it wouldn't be right to offer it to your customers!
    I too cherish my cork Swifts and accessories. I am grateful to have found TB when they were available, and to have been able to get them at that time.
    I really, really like TB Bags!

  14. #29
    TOM BIHN Crew (we work here) Darcy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dorayme View Post
    Well said Darcy! I love that your commitment is to the best products, and rather than offer something that would draw customers, but disappoint due to quality, your stand is that until the product can meet your quality standards, it wouldn't be right to offer it to your customers!
    I too cherish my cork Swifts and accessories. I am grateful to have found TB when they were available, and to have been able to get them at that time.
    Thanks for your understanding, dorayme. It is much appreciated... it's tough for us to deliver this kind of sad news about cork!
    Current Carry: Skookum Dog Citizen Canine prototype, Founder's Briefcase (every day carry), Small Cafe Bag (every day carry), Shop Bags (groceries, extra random stuff), Aeronaut 45 (travel), Synapse 19 (day hikes), Smart Alec (longer day hikes), Skookum Dog Road Duffel (Medium) (travel), Clear Organizer Wallet, Travel Stuff Sacks, Organizer Cubes

  15. #30
    Registered User marbenais's Avatar
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    Like Darcy, I adore my Little Swift in Cork. It's such a great combination of size and texture. Hopefully a group will tackle the cork quality issue and master the material!
    I have : many pouches & wallets & 3D Cubes & CQPCs & Stuff Sacks & Shop Bags, plum & black (C) & black/UV & aubergine/UV (B) Side Effects, steel/UV Citizen Canine, black FJN, plum/wasabi SCB, Cork Little Swift, black/steel Co-Pilot, old plum/olive (C) & black/UV (D) LCB, plum/black (C) Swift, old plum/olive (C) Imago, old plum/wasabi Ruck's Sac, steel WF/TS PCB, plum/solar & black/UV (C) & steel/UV (D) Synapses, black/iberian Smart Alec.

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