Mushrooms as replacement for leather

Mylo is a unique new material made from infinitely renewable mycelium, which looks and feels like leather, developed by bio-technology company Bolt Threads, of Emeryville, California (US).

Made from infinitely renewable mycelium – the branching underground structure of mushrooms – Mylo is created using a highly-efficient growing process that is intentionally designed to be low impact, taking less than two weeks to grow, emitting fewer green-house gases and using less water and resources than animal leather.

Adidas, Kering, LuluLemon and Stella McCartney are the major brand names in the consortium which have secured exclusive access to Mylo. These brands will begin bringing products featuring Mylo to market in 2021.

Following what is the largest joint development agreement in consumer biomaterials to date, the technology replicates what happens on the forest floor in a controlled indoor environment.

The spores of mycelia cells are taken and fed with sawdust and organic material and placed on a square mat while controlling the humidity and temperature. The mycelium grows into a foamy layer and is harvested, while leftover by-products are composted.

The sheet of mycelium is then processed and dyed and becomes the Mylo, used for making footwear, handbags, wallets, phone cases and other gorgeous products.

Consortium partners were drawn to Mylo because of its remarkable resemblance to soft, supple leather. It can be used like animal or synthetic leather and can take on any colour, finish or emboss.

“We are thrilled to be working with partners who recognise that we are in a race to develop sustainable solutions to conventional technologies,” said Bolt Threads CEO, Mr Dan Widmaier.

“They are joining forces and investing in a solution that can scale. These forward-thinking companies collectively represent hundreds of millions of square feet of potential demand for Mylo. Most importantly, this is an on-going commitment to developing materials and products for a more sustainable future.”

Stella McCartney said: “Many people associate leather with luxury, but since the beginning I always wanted to approach things differently because killing animals for the sake of fashion is quite simply not acceptable.”

According to Mr James Carnes, Vice-President of global brand strategy at Adidas, “This is an innovation that challenges the status quo. Products that use the best of what nature has spent millions of years perfecting are critical to that.” (www.mylo-unleather.com)

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