“Cora + Spink is committed to making products that are good for society. We understand that the fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world, responsible for 20% of global water pollution and 10% of global carbon emissions, as Jane Goodall, renowned scientist and environmentalist, once stated. We believe that by using only plant-based materials, we can reduce our environmental impact and promote a more sustainable future.”

But of course this didn’t happen overnight… this is the story of how we became vegan.

We used to use leather.

More than a few moons ago I started a business making bags in Walsall, England. A town world renowned as the hub of the leather industry. But, like many manufacturing towns, it was now it’s knees. By the early 2000’s only a handful of either very good, or very specialist workshops remained manufacturing for luxury fashion / home and automotive companies, or suppliers to the military/police.

This led me to learning a lot about the leather industry in general. I even tried, and failed to launch a leather collection. As time went by I realised high end fashion was not my bag (pun intended) and I knew nothing about the military or police, so I needed to diversify to keep a roof over my head. I did this by concentrating on denim and cotton jersey…

Fast forward to 2014, with renewed vigour, and equal measures of experience and disaster tucked into my belt, I started to create a range of cotton canvas bags, trimmed with leather… high end, quality, vegetable tanned leather.

As I grew a customer base, every couple of weeks someone would ask me about the vegan leather I was using… which for the uninitiated is nearly the polar opposite of vegetable tanned leather (vegan leather is made from plastic or polyvinyl, polyurethane leather – PU). Being asked these questions made me look very closely at what and why we were trimming the bags with animal products.

At first I would try to educate people of the types of leather we were using, it’s provenance, how it was made… then I started to look at the industry from another perspective. I would like to say I was shocked, but the reality is, I was blinkering myself from what I already knew… that the leather industry, worldwide, no matter the market level is not a good industry. And I had to get out.

I couldn’t lie to myself anymore, and thus, slowly but surely I searched how we could eradicate animal products from our lines.

It was not an easy process, and involved moving production several times to workshops that understood and believed in what I was proposing, but in 2017 we got there, making our first two, 100% vegan product. Less than 6 months later the entire range had been redesigned and joined those two first products – Poly Bag and Ten Ball.

Today with our own workshop we take pride in running a completely animal product or by-product free environment. We take pride in what we have achieved. And know the business, workers, local environment and customers have all benefitted, even be it a small amount from the effort to become vegan.

Cora and Spink backpack 47

Tim pretending to be useful on a shoot.

Photography Chloe Brewer.