Fungi Fashion

An infinitely renewable resource with minimal environmental impact, mycelium is set to change the future of fashion. Here are three brands embracing the potential of this cruelty-free biomaterial.

Image courtesy Bolt Threads

Mycelium is capturing the attention of the fashion and luxury worlds these days. And for good reason. The tiny interlaced underground root system of mushrooms also makes for a sustainable leather alternative that can be grown in a lab in less than two weeks, and is designed to have minimal environmental impact.

Mycelium is infinitely renewable, emits fewer greenhouse gases and uses far less water and land resources than raising livestock to produce animal leather, and is vegan. This biomaterial is a soft, substantial, sustainable leather with a remarkably similar hand-feel to animal leather.

Two California biotech start ups, MycoWorks and Bolt Threads, are leading the way in the race to find a viable, non-plastic alternative to animal leather, addressing increasing environmental and ethical concerns. Created by Bolt Threads, Mylo™️ is its latest certified bio-based vegan mushroom leather material. Meanwhile MycoWorks has been busy producing Fine Mycelium™, which can be custom grown to a brand’s specifications for performance, aesthetic features, size and more, which means less waste. Resembling soft, supple leather, Mylo and Fine Mycelium are versatile and can take on any colour, finish or emboss.

The highly efficient mycelium grow process takes advantage of a cutting-edge vertical agriculture technique, allowing it to be grown in a controlled lab environment —using mulch, air and water—that increases the yield per square foot. Because no cattle is required, it significantly cuts down on water usage, greenhouse gas emissions, chemical usage and waste, thus helping protect vital ecosystems like the Amazon from deforestation. Not to mention, it’s an ethical and cruelty-free choice.

Bolt Threads recently announced a new partnership with some of the biggest fashion players to create a consortium with access to Mylo. The collaboration will see Adidas, Kering Group, Lululemon and Stella McCartney bring products made with Mylo to market next year, marking a major step forward to make fashion more ethical and planet-friendly. And recently French luxury house Hermès announced its partnership with MycoWorks to produce a mycelium bag.

Here are three brands embracing mycelium in their eco-conscious designs.

Stella McCartney