Sustainable fashion in the luxury market is high up on the agenda of the Condé Nast International luxury conference happening from the 9th-11th of April 2019, in Cape Town.
Here, the Fashion Handbook is IN CONVERSATION with one of the event sponsors, PELCOR, to discuss their role in sustainable fashion and to find out a little more about CORK.
WHAT IS PELCOR: Pelcor is a sustainable fashion & lifestyle brand that develops trendy and innovative products inspired by cork, perfect for modern people.
THE CONCEPT: Pelcor collections include bags, shoes, hats, tech accessories, home accessories and pet accessories, transforming the traditional cork look in sophisticated and contemporary objects.
THE CRAFT: Their accessories are delicately crafted with high quality and attention to detail. Each piece is a unique item, that represents the brand values.
How did Pelcor get started in the fashion industry?
It all began with our previous CEO and the knowledge gained over the years about our raw material- cork. The idea was to produce a fashion item that would take advantage of one of the great peculiarities of cork- being waterproof. That is how Pelcor’s first product was born and continues to be one of which raises more interest in our clients, our Umbrella.
What are some of the things we as consumers may not know about cork?
Cork is a complete natural raw material with unique properties, which give it an unrivaled character. It is very light since 50% of its volume is air. Another attribute of cork is being waterproof, thanks to the suberin and ceroids that it contains. An additional great peculiarity of cork is the fact that it is very resistant and hypoallergenic since it does not absorb dust. Cork is also a good insulator and very resistant due to its honeycomb structure. It is a natural raw material, which makes it 100% biodegradable, recyclable and renewable.
How are you building a fashion and lifestyle brand for the future?
Consumers are generally becoming more selective about their spending. Now more than ever people make conscious choices about what they consume. Pelcor as a fashion and lifestyle brand intends to offer consumers an opportunity to experience a trendy product with an innovative design, provided by high-quality materials, and manufacture, but also an ecological and sustainable choice due to our material- cork. We believe that the future of the fashion industry goes through sustainable choices and it’s on this basis that we build the brand.
Do you consider yourself a small/medium or large company?
Today, a small team composes Pelcor. Internally, we are seven members and seven more on the international side who have worked hard and have dedicated all efforts in order to put this company in the position that it is today. It’s with great pride that I can say that a small company, like us, have achieved large results and works every day to achieve more and more.
What is your competitor set?
In general, our competitors are all the brands in the fashion industry. Specifically, the ones that work with the same material i.e cork. We believe that the market is increasingly competitive and we have to work seeing every fashion brand as a potential competitor.
What are your thoughts on sustainable fashion?
Fashion companies have a huge responsibility in what concerns their environmental footprint. Sustainability in fashion entails many different concepts such as human, social and environmental factors. As things evolve rapidly, consumers are aware of and search for brands that are committed to a more conscious business model. Portugal is a country with a strong tradition in manufacturing, which makes us masters in producing high-quality garments while being able to provide a safe work environment and good work conditions. With the notion of conscious fashion always top of mind, Pelcor is developing its concept based on sustainability. We develop trendy and sustainable products inspired by cork, transforming the traditional cork look into sophisticated and contemporary items.
Why is sustainability important?
Sustainability is very important for a very straight forward reason: we cannot maintain our quality of life as human beings without it. There are limited resources on earth and with population growth, they are being depleted at an exponential rate. This is why we choose a raw material such as cork, that needs to be removed from the cork oak tree every nine years, otherwise, the tree dies. This is the real meaning of sustainability.
Take us through the process of turning cork into fashion?
Pelcor was one of the pioneers of the cork fashion industry. It makes us very proud to know that we have paved the way for this industry. It takes 25 years to obtain the first cork from the oak tree. Many processes take place in order to obtain the cork skin. Our designer carefully develops all Pelcor products. Then the products are manufactured by specialized factories. Each piece is delicately crafted. In the end, we have a unique piece because “like everything in nature, no two Pelcor pieces are exactly alike”.
What do you have to say to consumers who do not see cork as fashionable?
I do not blame them. Unfortunately, there are many brands producing cork products without any kind of good design and that’s what spoils the product. What really sets Pelcor apart from other brands is the capacity that we have in transforming the traditional cork look in sophisticated and contemporary items. So to those who do not see cork as fashionable, we invite them to take a look at our collections and perhaps they might change their opinion.
Fun facts about cork
One thing that few know is that football is played on cork! During the Euro 2016 in France, a pioneering solution was launched for natural turf pitches incorporating cork. This technology uses the resistance of cork to ensure a safer and more resistant football pitch. Another fun fact about cork is the use of it in special effects in cinema. Thanks to its lightness, cork granules are used in special effects scenes to simulate explosions. The most recent film where this technique was used was in the Tomb Raider.