Cork is just about as good as it gets in terms of sustainable materials. Why? unlike most natural sources, a cork oak tree doesn’t have to be cut down. After a cork oak tree is 25 years old, a layer can be chopped off every nine years; and since they can live up to 300, one tree can provide for generations! Plus each time the cork is harvested, the tree absorbs more CO2 to aid in the bark regeneration process. Regularly harvested cork trees store three to five times more CO2 than those left unharvested, helping to keep our air clean.
Cork is famously used in bottles of wine; as placemats and pinboards. But what about the benefits of using cork as a material we can wear? To find out more I spoke to Jane, founder of By The Sea Collection who uses recycled cork as the main material in their products: By The Sea Collection actually started with me wanting to create a streetwear accessories brand that is different and suits my coastal lifestyle. People asked me “Why By The Sea?”. I have always lived in coastal cities my entire life, ocean and the sea is something I hold very close to my heart. I love the smell of seawater, sand and I want my brand to convey a message to preserve and maintain our beautiful, natural environment that has been given to us unconditionally.
Why is cork the main material in your designs/ what are the benefits of cork?
I was looking for a material that is a great alternative to leather. When I first came across cork material in a Nike sneaker, I became really interested and wanted to learn more. I found out that, cork material is as tough as leather and also water resistant. It’s a sustainable and eco-friendly material as cork is the bark from a species of Oak tree. Also, it’s cruelty-free, meaning no animals were harmed to make these bags and wallets. It’s also super unique and hasn’t really been bought to mainstream consciousness by any Australian designers before.
Unlike other companies, By The Sea Collection uses recycled, spare sheets/ offcuts of cork as opposed to new sheets of cork: I had the option of going with recycled sheets of cork or brand new manufactured cork sheets. I want to try and go full sustainable as much as I can, that’s why the recycled fabric was my choice. It’s still equally as tough, feels nice and those pieces don’t have to go to waste as it takes the Oak trees about 7 to 9 years to regenerate bark for another harvest.
By the Sea Collection has a selection of plain cork designs, as well as a ‘Vivid’ collection that uses offcuts of Ava to create fun and vivid spots of colour: I love all things colourful and being able to deliver a product that everyone will notice is a real statement. Plus, that’s what makes By The Sea Collection stand out from our competitors who only use single tone of cork for their bags. Customers also think that the coloured version of my bags is super fun, quirky and goes with everything. All the coloured pieces are also offcuts of a material called Ava, which is also water resistant. The same material can be found in thongs and swimming foam.
What are your favourite By The Sea products?
At the moment, the Gigi Coin Pouch and Donna Tote is something that I use everyday. It doesn’t matter how many wallets I use from my range, I always come back to my Gigi Coin Pouch. It fits all my cards and is small enough to go in my jeans pocket. The Donna Tote is a real statement bag. My Donna Tote is old, worn and overused but it still holds up quite well. It has a zipper top which keep my electronics secure when I’m out and about in Sydney.
Don’t forget to check out the… Secret link