Last year, we shared a story about a consortium of major brands pledging to bring mushroom leather into their products as soon as 2021. Among these giant retailers was Adidas, which has now unveiled a mycelium leather version of its classic Stan Smith trainers — becoming the latest in a flurry of fashion brands seeking to part ways with animal-derived leather.
The sustainable shoe components are grown in a lab from mycelium, the spiderweb-like filament structure that connects mushrooms and fungi. The material was grown over the course of two weeks and then tanned and dyed to create the mycelium-based leather called Mylo, which was first introduced on the market by US biotechnology firm Bolt Threads in 2018. Adidas worked together with Bolt Threads to refine the material so it would be appropriate for high-performance footwear.
“By creating the iconic Stan Smith with a Mylo material upper, Adidas is demonstrating the far-reaching potential of this innovative material,” said Jamie Bainbridge, VP of Product Development at Bolt Threads. “Mylo has the strength and performance it does today thanks to the guidance and deep technical expertise of the Adidas team in making great footwear.”
Adidas joins the likes of Stella McCartney, Lululemon, and Gucci’s parent company Kering, which have all invested in Mylo in a bid to scale up the experimental material and expand its availability to consumers. The vegan Stan Smith shoe is still only a design concept, but Adidas claims that a commercial version is just around the corner.
The ultimate aim is to help reduce the environmental impact of animal-derived leather and its plastic substitutes by replacing them with a sustainable alternative that significantly reduces resource consumption and greenhouse gas emissions associated with production.