Cork is one of the key features of Mandel shoes. Using natural cork allows us to honor our main commitments: creating shoes that are lovely to look at, pleasant to wear, and good for your feet while respecting the environment and fostering biodiversity.
What is cork
Cork is an entirely natural, renewable raw material that comes from the outer layer of the bark of the cork oak (Quercus suber). Lightweight, waterproof, resilient, buoyant, and virtually weightless, cork has been used for centuries to craft a variety of products, from wine stoppers to musical instruments to insulating materials. Cork’s intrinsic properties and extraordinary qualities make it an ideal material for natural, eco-friendly shoes.
Why cork is sustainable
Cork is made without harming the trees that produce it. The thick, knobbed bark of the cork oak can be harvested every 9 to 14 years without any damage to the living tree; once the cork has been removed, the tree continues to thrive and quickly regenerates the bark. Cork oats are evergreens that can live up to 250 years and be harvested continuously throughout their lives; meantime, they play a key role in water retention and soil conservation.
Cork oat woodlands also prevent the spread of forest fires and help preserve endangered animal species. Last, but by no means least, cork oaks absorb striking quantities of CO2, which they use to regenerate themselves and turn into oxygen, and harvested oak trees are able to soak up 3 to 5 times as much as non-harvested ones.
Fostering the existence of cork oak forests is a substantial step toward fighting against climate change.
Where our cork comes from
Our footwear is made with high-quality, wholesome cork harvested in the cork oak woodlands of Spain. Spain houses 506,000 hectares of cork oak woods, which yield 66,400 tons of cork per year and are inhabited by wonderful rare animals such as the black stork, imperial eagle, and Iberian lynx.
Why cork is good for your feet
When it comes to footwear, cork’s legendary durability, lightness, and buoyancy aren’t its only fortes. It is also incredibly elastic, so much so that it can be compressed to half its size and then regain its shape and volume perfectly, and resistant to humidity. Studies show that this latter feature, along with the phenols cork oaks produce, make cork a naturally antibacterial, antimicrobial, and hypoallergenic material.
Cork also has excellent insulating properties, thus protecting your feet from excessive heat and cold, and is shock-absorbent. Plus, the characteristic tiny “suction cups” that cover its surface allow for great adhesion.
Shoes with cork footbeds protect your feet from bacteria, fungi, and allergies, preserve your joints from excessive stress and allow you to move forward, with a confident gait, toward a more sustainable lifestyle.