accessories style & self-care

5 amazing vegan cork ‘leather’ bags

1 March 2019 | By Cassell

Sooooo I have a small confession to make.  For my recent post, “Why I’m No Nonsense on Non-Vegan Clothes“, I discovered exciting new fabrics now emerging to replace those that traditionally used animals, in particular, cow leather.

The faux leather we’re currently used to causes toxic effects in production. Thankfully, in light of these environmental concerns, vegan fabric innovation is moving in an better direction.  All sorts of plants are being utilised, including as pineapple leaves, mushrooms and even apples!

But, cork bags? How does THAT work?!

I was stunned by that, but also by the realisation that vegan, cork leather, is, as we say these days, ‘a thing‘.  I had no idea!  Since then, I’ve become a bit obsessed with the idea of cork bags, as I’m always open to ways to be more environmentally-friendly, whilst still appreciating having things that I need and bring joy.

Cork is also a hugely sustainable material. Cork oak trees don’t require pesticides or intensive agricultural practices.  Nor do they get chopped down, but are stripped of the outer bark. The tree can then regenerate that outer layer over and over again across its 200 year lifespan. Also, no chemicals are required to transform the raw bark into a useable fabric.
That is amazing and I am willing to bet we’ll be seeing a LOT more cork as people cotton onto it’s awesome environmental, and style, appeal.

cork production in portugal corklink.com

So much nicer to see stacks of cork bark rather than cow hides… Cork: a surprisingly versatile and sustainable material. (image: CorkLink.com)

So now we know why we should embrace cork as a fabric, let’s get to the fun stuff! I’ve scoured t’internet for all the UK based vegan, cork ‘leather’ bags that I could find, and there were more than I was expecting!

So join me in my online window shopping and read on to countdown my top 5 vegan cork leather bags!

(A wee disclaimer: I don’t own any of these bags (currently), and I have not been asked or paid to promote these items.  All prices are correct as of the time of writing.)

5:  “Cork Leather Jungle Leaves Handbag” – by Corkadoodle Bags

 

£49 (UK based, P&P applies)

The tropical leaf design reeled me in straight to this cork shoulder bag.  Isn’t it gorgeous?!  I don’t know why, but of all the bags on this list, this is the one I most want to stroke and feel.  We can’t see it, but it also has a very cute sounding beige and white polka dot cotton fabric lining.

Corkadoodle Bags is the name for an independent designer based in Lincolnshire, and is clearly passionate about using cork for its eco-friendly credentials.  Each bag is handmade and unique, and there are other various designs available.  Newly established in 2018, this could be one to watch to see what designs come as the brand matures.

4: “Cork Cross / Shoulder Bag” – by Frog Plop

Cute cork shoulder bag in a classic style for the daily essentials. (image: Frog Plop)

£38.00 (UK based, P&P applies)

Frog Plop describe this beauty as “a natural vegan cork shoulder or cross body bag with a metal clasp and a detachable adjustable strap.”

This is the most attractive bag I’ve seen for when you want people to gasp and say “is your bag made of cork?!” in disbelief.

The curiously-named Frog Plop also sell purses, belts, wallets  and accessories such as iPhone cases, cufflinks and glasses cases, all made from cork.  If you want to start making things for yourself, you can even buy cork leather from them! You can purchase by the half metre or metre from a 1.2m wide roll if you’re feeling creative!

3. “Bailey Satchel” by Wilby

beige cork satchel bag

The Bailey vegan cork leather satchel by Wilby – (image: wilbyclutch.com)

£85 (free UK delivery)

I am loving the simple chicness of this brand and all their products.  Looking through Wilby’s site feels like I’m browsing the shops on Marylebone High St on a Sunday morning.

I adore this take on the messenger bag, and it would be a fitting grown-up replacement for my usual canvas cross body bags.  However, what really stood out to me was the material itself.  A lot of cork bags, instantly look as if they are made from cork, and not in a good way.  I don’t know about you, but for me, this doesn’t.  I nearly selected the dark grey style for my list, but I was drawn to this cork-coloured bag that doesn’t look made from cork. Although it is!

The makers give this UK-made bag a sustainability rating of “high”, though I’m not sure what that refers to exactly. It’s worth noting that Wilby are Peta-approved.

The Bailey range includes other styles and various colours that I would describe as pink, grey-black, powder blue and aqua blue.

2:  “Kintla” – by Matt & Nat

image of Matt and Nat large cork bag

Canadian stalwart Matt & Nat isn’t afraid to hide the quirkiness of cork in this unique design (image: Matt & Nat)

£145.00 (free UK delivery)

Sooooo this is a bit of a Marmite bag, isn’t it?  I’m guessing that you’ll either love it or you’ll hate it.  I know this one might be surprising as I just said I don’t lean towards cork bags that look like cork…

Personally I love it!  I was taken aback by how Matt & Nat interpreted the cork concept in such a different way to other designers. They have not tried to conquer the rawness of this natural material with a neutralised, smooth appearance.  Instead they celebrate it by embracing what appears to be a patternless pressing of cork remnants.  For extra eco-friendly kudos, the lining is made of 100% recycled bottles.

This cork leather is so striking that I am willing to (temporarily) overlook the high price.  Again, because it is such a ‘Marmite’ bag, it’s the sort of accessory I’d either become attached at the hip to or would only come out a few times a year.  If you love the style, but aren’t so keen on the cork, this bag also comes in other corkless colours.

Matt & Nat is probably one of the best known, vegan designer brands in the mainstream fashion world.  They are also fully Peta-approved.

1:  “Ora” – by FRiLuk

 

blue cork handbag by FRiLuk

I actually cannot believe that this is made of cork! (image: FRiLuk)

£141.31 (free UK shipping)

Ok, so I would be hard pushed to spend this much on a bag, I admit.  But how on earth have they managed to get cork to look this, well, non-cork like?!  Doesn’t it look like it belongs in a decent department store bag section?

Personally I think the colour is divine and it would certainly suit most occasions and needs.  It’s certainly a day to night bag and would do well for most requirements as it’s fairly large (40 x 33 x 13 cm).

In addition to the deep blue colour, the laser-cut overlay on the main body and the contrast stitching helps this bag stand out from the others.  Thus it narrowly takes the top spot.

FRiLuk (pron: free luck) are based in the UK but their Peta-approved bags are made in Portugal, which seems to be the home of cork production.  FRiLuk assure of no harmful chemicals being used and that the cork derives from FSC® (Forest Stewardship Council) certified cork.  Brilliant for the eco-conscious vegan!

This bag also comes in brown and beige.

So there you have it!

I hope you enjoyed my top 5 selection of vegan cork leather bags!  Have you seen any other beautiful bags that deliver to the UK that should have made the list?  Let me know in the comments 🙂

Cassell x
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