Today’s Solutions: March 29, 2023

Recently, we covered a study that documented the incredible potential of fungi to replace animal-derived leather with a more eco-friendly and cost-effective alternative.

Now giant retailers are joining forces to bring this bio-material to scale by investing significant amounts of money in a startup specializing in developing the revolutionary mushroom leather.

Adidas, Stella McCartney, and Lululemon are some of the most prominent brands who have recently announced plans to bring mushroom leather into their products as soon as next year. As part of the plan, the retailers are partnering with a startup called Bolt Threads, an expert in making the special material.

In 2018, Bolt Threads began developing the vegan leather-like material, called “Mylo”, using a special kind of fiber derived from mycelium — the thread-like roots of mushrooms. Now, thanks to the unconventional consortium of rival fashion brands, the startup is preparing to bring its technology to the world.

According to Bolt CEO Dan Widmaier, the collective effort from the brands is particularly welcome since it will enable the startup to scale its impact significantly. “We had to convince these industry competitors that this was about tackling a bigger challenge together than any of them could solve alone,” he told the Times.

The fashion industry remains one of the most polluting sectors in the world. By growing its material from mycelium, Bolt is hoping to offset some of this environmental impact. “The truth is, this industry remains an environmental ticking time bomb and is full of outdated technologies,” he added.

To produce Mylo, Bolt grows the mycelium over a bed of sawdust for ten days. The resulting product is then tanned, dyed, and finished just like leather — but in a process that’s significantly faster and greener than traditional leather production.

Mylo-made products, from Adidas sneakers to Stella McCartney accessories, are expected to hit the stores as soon as 2021. The company hopes that more big brands will join the bandwagon and turn its pioneering material into the fabric of the future.

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