rē•spinning Textiles with Mushroom Leather

Making our homes and wardrobes more sustainable.

By: rē•spin
rē•spinning Textiles with Mushroom Leather

For over two decades, Stella McCartney has served as a trailblazer in the fashion industry. Throughout her career, she has rē-imagined fashion from the inception of her eponymous fashion line. McCartney has intertwined her eco-conscious, vegetarian beliefs into her brand’s ethos. She’s never used animal materials in her garments, from leather and feathers to any skin or furs.

Through her designs and end products, including the brand’s new Frayme Mylo bag, which took four years to market, McCartney knew that the end product would need to be just as good if not better than traditional leather or animal yielded goods. For consumers, there can be no compromise on the integrity of the product. But for the planet, the cost is much more. 

Changing the fashion landscape

“Everyone’s trying to make this work. Everybody wants to make it work,” McCartney told Business of Fashion. “But until it works, they’re not going to take a leap of faith. Because they’ve got something that currently works very well for them.”

Various well-known brands have stepped up to the plate alongside McCartney. They, too, are using innovative materials to rē-spin their classic products and styles. For example, Lululemon leveraged the material to create yoga mats and accessories. Adidas rē-designed their Stan Smith style sneakers using mycelium leather. Hermès also has plans to rē-release their classic Victoria travel bag. Originally made of calfskin, the heritage brand will substitute the material for mushroom-derived leather for a sustainable alternative. 

Fashion’s impact on the environment

The apparel industry’s impact can be detrimental to the sanctity of our environment. Combined with a general increase in the production and consumption of these fashion goods, textiles like cotton require massive amounts of water to produce. For example, approximately 2,700 liters of water are needed to make a single cotton t-shirt. Globally, 5 trillion gallons of water are used each year to dye fabric. This leads to 20% of water pollution derived just from manufacturing garments.

Still today, leather remains a popular textile for handbags, accessories, shoes, clothing, and even decor and furniture around our homes. However, leather production comes with environmental issues, too. This industry contributes to climate change, pollution, and excessive water use. 

What vegan alternatives exist today?

Environmentalists and individuals who live a plant-based lifestyle have driven the need for vegan leathers; an industry expected to grow to $89.6 billion by 2025. And yet, the vegan-leather industry comes with its own set of problems regarding the reality of what those textiles are made of. 

Many of these garments are made of polyurethane leather and thermoplastic polymer. These materials are not sustainable, recyclable, or biodegradable. They also takes many chemicals, energy, and water to produce. So, where can we look for other alternatives when the eco-conscious choice isn’t as sustainable as it should be? 

Enter mushroom leather.

What is mushroom leather made out of? 

While many vegan leather materials harm the environment, MycoWorks has changed the future of textiles with vegan leather derived entirely from fungi. This mushroom-based leather turns mycelium–a network of threads found on the root of the mushroom–into a material that looks and feels like leather from an animal. This company uses engineered mycelium cells that grow in 3-D structures. Eventually, they become intertwined enough that they form a dense, compact material called Fine Mycelium™. This mimics the durability of genuine leather. 

Compared to other textile alternatives, including genuine leather, plastic-derived faux leathers, and other mushroom and plant-based leathers, MycoWorks’ trademarked mycelium leather is both durable and supple. It is also made-to-order to avoid waste and is engineerable to allow for creative freedoms and liberty. Overall, it offers a lower impact sustainable material compared to its alternatives.

How to rē•spin our interiors with sustainable practices? 

Our spaces undoubtedly play a role in our wellness journeys, from what we use to furnish and decorate our homes. 

We can, and should, align our spaces with the dimensions of wellness and find ways in which we can embrace our core pillars; to be able to connect to ourselves, nourish our soul, strengthen our body, awaken our mind, and give back so we can realize eternal beauty. And curating a sustainability-minded home while adopting a conscious consumer mindset enables us to live our wellness-first lifestyles in the space that envelops us each day, housing us as we make mindful choices that will give back to our generation and the generations to come. 

While we always have the choice to shop second-hand–whether for clothing, furniture, or home goods–we’re also presented with new, sustainable options of consciously created materials. This includes MycoWork’s Fine Mycelium™ leather and other items to give back to the planet that has sustained us. Embrace the innovation that modern science and technology are bringing to the table. Welcome the newness that can help us find balance in our routines. We’re presented with a unique opportunity to invest in the pieces that feel true to us, which also double as the pieces that support Mother Earth.

Image Credit: @peasthankyou

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