Today’s Solutions: December 01, 2021

Mushroom-derived leather holds real potential for revolutionizing the fashion industry and pushing it towards more sustainable practices. This potential has been particularly reflected in recent partnerships between major brands and biotechnology startups looking to replace animal-sourced leather with a material that’s significantly more eco-friendly, yet retains the same look and feel like the real thing.

One of the latest examples is a partnership between biomaterials company MycoWorks and luxury fashion house Hermès, whose new mushroom-derived leather bag offers a glimpse into what the future of the leather industry might look like.

Like other companies working on creating sustainable alternatives to leather, MycoWork’s leather focuses on mycelium — the underground network of threads forming the vegetative part of mushrooms.

What makes MycoWorks stand out, however, is Fine Mycelium — a patented process that amplifies mycelium’s natural ability to bind to itself and other materials. The result is a groundbreaking technique that creates a strong, three-dimensional network.

The technique is at the heart of the company’s inaugural product: an entirely new class of sustainable materials that are 100 percent animal- and plastic-free. This is the main material that makes the ‘Victoria bag,” the pilot product of the new collaboration between Hermès and MycoWorks.

After MycoWorks produced the material at one of its facilities, the mushroom-leather was then sent to Hermès tanners for tanning and finishing, further refining its strength and durability. It was then shaped by Hermès craftspeople in workshops before being approved for sale.

Combining expertise in tanning and high-quality materials with state-of-the-art biotechnological tools, the partnership demonstrates the true potential of emerging mycelium-based leather to overhaul the luxury goods industry and pave the way for a greener fashion future.

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