At this moment, you are already aware how special portuguese cork is. You also should already be aware, if you are not portuguese, how hard it might be to find cork in your country. At this point you may think all the cork bags, shoes or wallets you find in Portugal are special and high good quality...you could not be more wrong!
Local markets and souvenir shops try to put you in trouble. Yes, the "cork" they sell is cheap, but is it good quality? Most of the times, is not! Take my advice good cork is not cheap, if someone is selling too cheap to be true products is because is not true.
I bet you have high requirements, and you wont end up buying cheap low quality products. Am I right? So, how can you know when something is the real deal?
Softness & Flexibility
If you are about to buy cork bags, check if the cork is soft and very flexible. If do not have any term of comparison try to test the cork of different sellers and with time you will start to understand the difference
Sometimes you may find a really nice cork bag, you the cork, and it seems good. Are you good to go? Wait a second, and inspect harder. Check the small details. Try the zipper several times, have a look at the inside, check the pockets, force the strap.
The lining represents 50% of the quality of your product. The cork fabric is usually pasted in a synthetic layer what gives it durability and allows it to be used for a big number of fashion accessories.
Do not trust the made in Portugal label
As of my experience I have found a big number of products for sell with this label, that I am for sure never ever touched the hands of a Portuguese crafter ou factory. This is a common trick some sellers do to persuade you.
Check online for references
If the product you are about to buy had brand, check it online. Does it seem legit? Does it have good references?
Check also social media references: Trip advisor, google maps, facebook, instagram. All of these can be good advisors.
If you are in Porto, visit the shop Cultura Portuguesa - Cork Fashion & Arts! And not forget to follow my advices.