Home Adidas product Could mushroom-based leather be the next high fashion material?

Could mushroom-based leather be the next high fashion material?

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Could fungi create vegan leather that doesn’t harm animals or contribute to the climate crisis?

Over the past year or so, haute couture has turned to a material called mycelium, which can be grown from mushrooms in a matter of weeks, but looks and feels like calfskin. Experts believe that working with mushrooms could give designers a more lasting relationship with waste.


“I am delighted to support the fashion world in its efforts to become more sustainable”, biologist Merlin sheldrake, who wrote Tangled Lives: How Mushrooms Create Our Worlds, Change Our Minds, and Shape Our Future, The Guardian said ahead of the Business of Fashion Voices conference on Thursday. “There is so much potential in mushrooms to overcome some of the problems we face.”

mycelium is another word for the threads that make up the plant part of mushroom-producing organisms, according to designboom. However, biomaterials company MycoWorks has developed and patented a material called fine mycelium.

“Fine Mycelium designs mycelium cells as they grow to create three-dimensional structures that are densely intertwined and inherently strong”, the business website explains. “Fine Mycelium is a patented process for growing materials with superior strength, durability and performance. “

In March, the material first entered the world of high fashion as a Hermes Victoria bag.

“The vision and values ​​of MycoWorks echo those of Hermès,” said Hermès artistic director Pierre-Alexis Dumas at the time. “A strong fascination with natural raw materials and their transformation, a quest for excellence, with the aim of ensuring that objects are used to the best of their ability and that their longevity is maximized.


MycoWorks: The making of Reishi ™ ️ Fine Mycelium ™ ️

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Another company called Bolt Threads also uses mushroom-based leather to work with Stella McCartney and with Adidas on a handbag, according to The Guardian.

The rise of the new material comes as there is a growing awareness of the environmental damage caused by animal agriculture. The livestock sector is responsible for 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and a recent report found that major fashion brands, including Coach, Prada and Adidas, source their leather from tanneries and manufacturers linked to Amazon deforestation.

The rise of alternative materials reflects a real desire of consumers to buy more sustainable and ethical products, sustainable development blogger Sara Anne Leeds told Input.

“It’s a business and it exists for profit,” she told Input of Hermes’ foray into vegan leathers. “If her supply chain had worked well with genuine leather, the only reason she would have switched leather would be because consumers were demanding sustainable alternatives. “

This movement towards mushroom-based leather so far begins with haute couture.

“We work with luxury fashion first because they are one step ahead when it comes to sustainability,” MycoWorks CEO Dr Matt Scullin told The Guardian. “These are brands that can think big and think long term.”

However, he said partnerships with more affordable brands were “on the radar.”

If this happens, however, there is a risk that the durability factor will decrease. Although plant-based or mushroom-based materials are preferable to animal-based or plastic-based leather options, they still encourage the production and consumption of a steady supply of new products, Leeds pointed out.

“If consumers spend $ 4,000 on a Gucci bag, they’ll keep it,” she told Input. “But with a recycled label, consumers may think they don’t have to keep it for long, thinking the product will have a low impact. [on the environment] once landfilled.

She said the more durable leather option is to buy real second-hand leather.

Sheldrake, however, believed that the use of mushroom materials themselves could teach designers and consumers a new relationship with waste.

“If fungi weren’t doing what they do, our planet would be stacked meters high in the bodies of animals and plants,” he told The Guardian. “We have been trained as consumers to think in terms of a straight line through which we buy something, use it and throw it away. Mushrooms can inform fashion thinking on many levels. It’s about material innovation, but it’s also about the culture of creating endless new things, and what we can learn by thinking in terms of nature and cycles instead. “

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