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The first thing you might notice about cork fabric is the uniqueness of every piece. This is due to the corks unrepeated natural grain pattern revealed with every layer created. Cork is the bark of the noble oak tree 'Quercus Super', which has a life span of over 200 years. Cork oaks growing together are known as the 'Montado', a name devised in the 14th century to refer to the bio-diversity found in this environment. Every nine years this bark is extracted in an ancient and natural process that doesn’t cut or harm the tree. This is done entirely without machinery and relying solely on skilled human labour. Cork is a 100% natural, sustainable and recyclable material, with unmatched qualities that can be used in a myriad of forms, shapes and purposes. Cork has been used for everything from heat and cold insulation, to the nose of the space shuttle. Interestingly wine corks only account for 15% of usage. Every remnant of cork is utilised, from the remains of a sheet of cork after the corks have been punched out to the cork powder which is used to power the boilers needed to “cook” the cork bark before it can be processed. But the story of Cork doesn’t stop there…cork oak forests have an astonishing ability to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere. It is estimated that it can absorb up to 14 million tons of CO2 per year. Cork forests also support many species of fauna and flora including threatened species such as the Iberian lynx. Cork forests sustain regional populations with employment, and in Portugal, there is a great deal of research and innovation currently occurring so that cork utilisation can be developed and shared worldwide.

Cork Backing made from Eco-Cotton

At Novela we've taken advantage of the creation of cork fabric, and the particular cork fabric we choose to manufacture with is bonded to beautiful organic cotton. Cork fabric is easy to clean and take care of and lasts a lifetime.

Novela is excited to have wonderful relationships with our cork fabric supplier and plans to expand its usage of this wonderfully sustainable and versatile natural material.

Our cork fabric is bonded to 100% Organic Eco-Cotton. This cotton has been produced in accordance with organic farming standards which are recognised by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS).


At Novela, we only use leather that is essentially sustainable and ethically produced. We love the look and feel of leather but before using it, we first needed to research how it was made, where it was sourced from and if it was possible to find sustainably and ethically produced options - it was and we jumped at the opportunity.

Our leather is vegetable tanned and this is an ancient, environmentally friendly technique that uses natural tannins extracted from plants and trees, such as tree bark and branches. Only the best European rawhides are selected to be soaked in pits or barrels with these tannic acids for more than 40 days. No chemicals are used and due to this natural process, our leather not only smells nice but also takes on its own uniqueness with every pelt. Unlike pigmented leather, our leather is completely dyed through and has a natural feel with a beautiful grain because it is not coated with layers of spray paint. Due to the natural process, vegetable tanned leather is extremely durable and it will develop a warm and brilliant patina with use. Light colours can gradually darken over time.

We source our leather from only those countries in Europe where the animals are raised with modern and environmentally considerate farming methods, they are treated with respect and well looked after.


When researching lining options, we discovered a non-animal alternative to suede. Faux Suede, although it is made from a plastic, is made from recycled polyethylene terephthalate. We really liked the idea of using recycled PET products as it has great benefits for the planet. It not only keeps plastic out of land fill and oceans but helps create a hand bag that is made and designed to last.

Even though using faux suede meant we lost some flexibility in the structure, our highly skilled manufacturer has made it work and the benefits are it’s lighter, more durable and easier to maintain than leather. We love the finished product.

Our supplier’s sustainability policy and practices are to create long lasting products - not short term throw away items, they use no PVC and use ecological alternatives to chemical compounds where possible reducing chemical use to an absolute minimum whilst continually researching how to reduce their impact.


It took a while to find a hardware supplier whose environmental policy considered environmental issues critical when evolving their culture, production and management systems. Our suppliers are constantly adapting to the use of natural and environmental resources and their commitment statement is as follows.

“The rational and efficient use of natural resources and energy; The minimisation of waste, ensuring they receive proper treatment; Awareness of our employees for environmental sustainability; We take responsible environmental behaviour and practices; Constant demand for solutions that prove to be self-sustainable and environmentally friendly.”

Our suppliers are offer products that are non-nickel suspension coatings and these make a difference to the environment during production and degradation. Like all our sustainable and ethical product options, they are more expensive but worth it.


Our zip supplier’s mantra is “Passion for excellence means awareness”, and their core value is “excellence in detail”, and “always pursue ethical attention to our environmental and social impacts that are generated all along the production chain”.

Our supplier’s are focused on reducing their environmental footprint in every way they can through their design, raw materials, transport, production practice, waste management, energy use, business trips offset, and even down to the employees’ daily commute.

They have completed the following surveys and meet “Greenhouse Gas Protocol Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard” published by the World Resources Institute (WRI) and by the World Business Council on Sustainable Development (WBCSD). This allows them to monitor five categories of impact; human health, quality of ecosystem, climate change, use of resources and water consumption.

Paints, Dies and Bonding Agents

All the compounds used in the production of all our materials meet European standards of REACH. REACH is a regulation of the European Union, adopted to improve the protection of human health and the environment from the risks that can be posed by chemicals, while enhancing the competitiveness of the EU chemicals industry. It also promotes alternative methods for the hazard assessment of substances in order to reduce the number of tests on animals. All suppliers of our materials not only adhere to the REACH specifications but in many instances exceed them.

Current R&D with New and Alternative Materials

Novela is currently working on developing a vegan range of leather made from vegetable sources that has equal or better strength and functionality than animal leather. We proactively avoid using any plastic leather as an alternative to animal leather, as it is made from raw fossil fuel, and this makes no sense as a sustainable option.