The idea is to design a practical, lightweight, and luxurious raincoat substituting PVC for a natural material: cork fabric. The design will be minimalist and modern, and the raincoats will possess much sought-after qualities such as being breathable, sustainable and soft, yet waterproof. The project will use the traditional knowledge existent in Portugal of the cork industry to preserve a heritage. The cork tree is well known for its inherent purification properties, which will have a beneficial impact on the local environment.
After reading about cork forests that are a vast area in Portugal also known as the Montado, I began thinking how interesting the extraction of the cork was. It is such a beautiful practice that actually does not harm the trees, and because it’s extracted without killing the tree, the Montado preserves the forests and its animals. The oak of cork trees works as a CO2 retainer. Every year cork oak forests retain 14 million tons of CO2. I was fascinated and completely in love by the idea of creating something wearable made with cork. The idea inspired me to research about everything that was connected to the entire process and the entire cork market. After that, I discovered that cork could be used as a perfect plastic replacement for the fashion industry. It made a lot of sense to create something wearable. I was very inspired to connect the European traditional extraction, the sustainability of the cork and the demand for new greener materials.
THE BIRTH OF THE PROJECT:
My project was born to be the sustainable solution for outwear clothing, mainly replacing PVC based clothing, by creating a waterproof fabric made from only natural materials. Also, the cork industry has faced major challenges, because of the introduction of the plastic wine stoppers, and finding new applications for cork is helping the livelihoods of cork harvesting, and the ecosystem which the Montado sustains.
The biggest challenge is to share the project using the right channels to large scale brands and make partnerships with them, so more designs in cork will be made.
THE CREATIVE PROCESS:
I felt that the best idea was to go to Portugal and find oak cork forests and areas in which they are extracted. I needed to understand and feel the natural touch of the oak before the extraction, and see the surroundings that those trees were growing in. But when I started the project, I did not know how I could develop the entire idea. I needed to understand a lot of technical things which I did not have a background in, but thankfully my partners helped me a lot, and now I understand and find sustainable solutions by reading about different materials and different methods.
There is a huge advantage about doing partnerships, and me and my team felt lucky to partner with companies that had a very different background than us. I felt we embraced each other’s ideas and we developed better solutions as a group. At the end, our collaboration resulted in an amazing creation between all partners.
As the research phase has come to an end, and we are left with a commercial product, step by step, we have begun to contact big brands, and we will be exhibiting our fabric at textile fairs in Europe.
Many minds combined, have an increased chance of creating something extraordinary.
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- High-performance materials
HOMS ARTHAUS independent fashion label based in Berlin. The approach to fashion is artistic, with innovative products and a new creation of a menswear universe. Founded in 2016, the label created the first collection of digital printed jumpsuits for men. Since then the label has been present at, Pitti Uomo, St. Andrews Charity Fashion Show and at Pop-Ups around Europe.
- Homs Arthaus Dias Mendes
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PORTUGALIACORK Portuguese cork supplier and fashion accessory manufacturer and retailer. Portugalia Cork’s team is a group of people with a depth of skills and knowledge of cork material and the cork industry.