Cork is harvested in countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, primarily Portugal. Cork grows much like a bark on trees. It must be pealed off the trees in sheets by skilled workers. When the cork is mature it begins a "natural release." In other words it begins to naturally separate from the tree. In a centuries old process, workers assist in the release by harvesting the cork and leaving behind a healthy tree which will begin the process all over again. In order to insure that the trees are healthy, the first, initial harvesting of the cork does not occur until the tree is 25 to 35 years of age depending on climate conditions. The cork is only harvested every 7 to 10 years as it matures. Early harvesting tends to be a lower quality cork suitable for bottle stoppers or wall cork boards. Only the most mature, higher quality cork can be used in the fashion industry. The cork used in fashions is, in fact, the top 1% of the cork quality. After harvesting, cork is sliced into sheets similar to leather hides. Unlike cheaper lower quality, less mature, early harvest cork, this fashion cork is highly flexible thereby making it easy to sew and fabricate into fashion accessories.
Cork does not need to be conditioned. It is easily cleaned by simply using a clean cloth, gently rubbing a little liquid soap and water on a dirty spot and then remove any excess soap with a damp cloth. Next, allow the item to dry naturally.