Hello Mushrooms; Goodbye Plastics

27.04.2021, Design Fashion
27

UNLEATHER

[ən-le-t͟hər]

The radical act of choosing products made sustainably with infinitely renewable mycelium over animal and synthetic-based materials.

 – MYLO

2021 seems to be the year of the mushroom. Not only does Bella Hadid seem to have a spleen for fungi designs on her T-shirts (and bags, trousers, jewellery…), shroom-inspired pieces have been popping up across fashion houses everywhere. There have been the JW Anderson mushroom shaped dresses, Fiorucci’s mushroom phone case, and the fungi embroidered Ashish pieces. However, some less obvious designs not only SHOW mushrooms, but ARE mushrooms.

Discussions on how to make fashion a more sustainable industry have been around for years now, and a lot of new ideas and developments have arisen from it. One of those is the so-called „mushroom-leather“, that finally seems to be hitting the runways this years. Last month, Hermès announced their vegan mushroom-made version of its classic leather Victoria bag, Stella McCartney recently released their first fungi look and now Adidas joined the movement by establishing the shroom version of their iconic Stan Smith model.

2021 seems to be the year of the mushroom. Not only does Bella Hadid seem to have a spleen for fungi designs on her T-shirts (and bags, trousers, jewellery…), shroom-inspired pieces have been popping up across fashion houses everywhere. There have been the JW Anderson mushroom shaped dresses, Fiorucci’s mushroom phone case and the fungi embroidered Ashish pieces. However, some less obvious designs not only SHOW mushrooms, but ARE mushrooms.

Discussions on how to make fashion a more sustainable industry have been around for years now, and a lot of new ideas and developments have arisen from it. One of those is the so-called „mushroom-leather“, that finally seems to be hitting the runways this years. Last month, Hermès announced their vegan mushroom-made version of its classic leather Victoria bag, Stella McCartney recently released their first fungi look and now Adidas joined the movement by establishing the shroom version of their iconic Stan Smith model.

But how does the new plant-based leather work and does it have the potential to replace „real“ leather? When speaking about mushroom-leather, we specifically talk about mycelium, the sprawling, interlaced web that threads through soil and builds the root structure of the mushroom. What makes mycelium interesting in the production of clothing is its long cells that act like fibers akin to leather, meaning the  solution for a more sustainable version of the controversial material has been around for billions of years, sitting right under our feet. Mycelium can be harvested within only five days and its production requires less water, less energy and less resources.

One company, that really seems to hit it off in the mycelium department is Mylo, a start-up from California under the company Bolt Threads, that already counts Adidas, Stella McCartney, Kering and Lululemon to their consortium. The Mylo leather looks and feels just like animal leather and can take on any color, emboss or texture. The company consumes significantly less land and emits fewer greenhouse gases than raising livestock. The mycelium used to make Mylo leather is grown from mulch, air, and water in just a few short weeks and the final product is bio-based, meaning it is predominantly from renewable ingredients found in nature. Mylo calls to wear evolved materials as evolved humans should and to „unleather“ the products we use every day.

Unsurprisingly, one of the first designers to work with Mylo was Stella McCartney whom was once called „fashion’s conscious“ by Vogue and debuted her first-ever Mylo garments in March this year. Worn by actress and environmentalist Paris Jackson she presented a black leather bustier top and utilitarian trousers that were handcrafted from panels of Mylo laid on recycled nylon scuba at the brand’s atelier in London. „I believe the Stella community should never have to compromise luxury and design for sustainability, and Mylo makes that a reality“, said the designer about the collaboration. 

Only one month later, Adidas too debuted their first Mylo shoe and have chosen the iconic Stan Smith model to test and display the new material. The outer upper, perforated 3 stripes, heel tab overlay, and premium branding are all made with Mylo, and the midsole of the shoe is made with natural rubber, making the shoe no less sustainable. The Mylo version is the second sustainable edition of the cult shoe after the Primegreen edition, which was made of 50% recycled materials. The Stan Smith has been a smart strategic choice, as it enables Adidas to quickly scale Mylo through a globally beloved silhouette aiming to expand the new material into additional Originals silhouettes and business units across the brand. The commercial roll out of the shoe is expected in 2022 and its price point will fall in line within other Stan smith offering. “With the introduction of the new Mylo material, we have come a big step closer to our goal of putting an end to plastic waste,“ says Amy Jones Vaterlaus, Global Head of Future at adidas. „We have to learn to work closer with nature and bet on resources that are renewed in a sustainable rhythm.“ 

„Mylo products are on the way“ it mysteriously says on Mylo’s website. We are eager to see what other brands will come up with mushroom inspired designs – and when they will finally be finding their way into our closets.

All Images Adidas

Words Ann-Kathrin Lietz

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