Is cork a sustainable product?
Yes, it is. Cork is a beautiful example of balance between human needs and protection of nature. It’s 100% natural, renewable and biodegradable material. It comes from a bark of a cork oak tree, manually harvested every nine years by highly skilled workers. When the bark is harvested a new layer grows back. Cork removal does not damage the tree at all, quite the opposite, it improves tree health. Cork oaks live up to 200 years, and it is estimated that in Portugal alone (where the most cork oak forests are) there are enough harvestable cork to meet market demand for the next 100 years.
Does it damage easily with wear and tear? Are they durable enough to last at least a year or two with everyday use?
Cork is a very strong and flexible material. It can handle a great pressure by stretching and then returning to its original shape. Cork fabric will not break or crumble. Just like animal leather it will change and wear with age but will do so with style.
What would it feel like to touch? Is it going to be uncomfortable or scratchy or irritating against my arms?
Cork fabric is very, very, very soft to touch and feels very smooth. Fun fact: the natural temperature of cork is very similar to the temperature of a human body, so we naturally find it very comforting.
Can you get it wet?
Yes, you can. Cork is water repellent, droplets of water will just roll off it. If you submerge cork in water it will become wet, but will dry without any consequences. In fact some cork fabrics can even be machine washed.
Does it scratch like animal leather or is it meow resistant?
Cork is more scratch resistant than animal leather, and with normal wear will not scratch. We cannot guarantee however that it is meow proof as those adorable creatures have very sharp claws indeed.
Will chunks come off it?
You are thinking of cork pin boards or maybe some wine stoppers made of agglomerated cork (small cork chips glued together). But the cork fabric we use at tsom is a very different cork product. It is created by laminating thin cork sheets onto a fabric backing using water based glue under high pressure. Cork fabric will not chip or crumble as it is not made of small chips, but rather sheets of cork.
Do cork bags get dirty? Are they easy to clean? Will they stain?
Lighter coloured and natural cork bags will get dirty, especially with everyday wear. Cork, however, is stain resistant and very easy to clean. Lukewarm water and pH-neutral soap is all you need to keep it looking good for years. While some cork fabrics can be machine washed we do not recommend it for our bags. You can learn more about cleaning your cork here https://tsomdesign.com.au/blogs/news/how-to-clean-your-cork-bag