Photo courtesy of Stella McCartney

Culture | 05.24.2022

This Famous Fashion Brand Uses Mushroom Mycelium For Leather

That's one way to use mushrooms.

Mushrooms are one of the most fascinating plants to grow from the earth.

Well, they’re not really plants at all; they’re fungi. They come in different shapes, sizes, and colors which can be used for all sorts of reasons.

While many of us cook them up in the kitchen or dose psychedelic psilocybin recreationally, fashion brand Stella McCartney uses them for leather.

Lab-Grown Mushroom Leather

It’s quite common for individuals to boycott companies that still use real animal leather, furs, skins, feathers, etc. 

Stella McCartney was one of the fashion industry’s first luxury brands to never use real animal products for clothing and accessories. The company recently launched the world’s first garments from vegan, lab-grown mushroom leather dubbed Mylo™️. 

The launch was in partnership with Bolt Threads, who teamed up with Stella McCartney in 2017. 

The first product with mycelium-based material formed from the partnership was a prototype of Stella McCartney’s Falabella bag that debuted in the V&A’s Fashioned From Nature exhibition in 2018. 

After years of reworking mushroom leather and finding ways to incorporate the material into clothing, Mylo™️ was born. 

Mycelium-Based Mylo™️

Photo courtesy of Stella McCartney

The result was a sturdy, sustainable alternative to animal leather made entirely from the complex underground root system of mushrooms.

But is mushroom leather safer than other synthetic leathers? Absolutely.

For one thing, most synthetic leathers are petroleum-based, meaning they’re still emitting fossil fuels and plastics during production.

Stella McCartney’s Mylo™️ is not petroleum-based but certified bio-based, reducing fossil fuel and plastic emissions dramatically. Interestingly the scientists at Bolt Threads developed a unique method that recreates mycelium growing environments in a lab with mulch, air, and water.

Instead of raising cattle on a farm for years only to use them for leather, Stella McCartney’s mushroom leather only takes days to produce. This has a hugely positive environmental impact;

  • Saving water that would usually hydrate cattle
  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions
  • Maintaining what’s left of the Amazon rainforest and other sites at risk of deforestation

Photo courtesy of Stella McCartney

Stella McCartney only has two garments made from Mylo™️ leather, and both are not for sale. It has a black bustier top and utilitarian trousers.

However, launching the two garments for media coverage is the perfect start.

It helps consumers understand the negative environmental impact of regular leather and promote the positives of sustainable, eco-friendly materials like mushrooms.

Now, not only can we eat mushrooms and dose them recreationally, but we can wear them too.

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