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Mushroom the future of vegan leather alternatives? All you need to know about it

Mushroom the future of vegan leather alternatives? All you need to know about it
By Maisie McDonald

What is this new material, what sustainable attributes does it hold, and who’s selling it? Maisie from Renoon dives into it and answers the questions you are probably asking.

Mushroom material is a vegan alternative to leather that uses Mycelium as its raw material, which is the root structure of mushrooms.

Various brands have started to test it out and place their bets on this material. So, what’s all the fuzz? Is it a valid sustainable option?

Nat Kelly on mushroom material alternative to leather

Let’s start with the basics, how do mushrooms become leather-like material?

Mycelium can grow into complex, fully-formed structures, molding into any shape, like an expanding bag of marshmallows. The process begins with mycelium cells grown on beds of sawdust and other organic material.

The material is super speedy and can expand into the equivalent of cowhide in only 2 months (instead of the 2-3 years of the leather industry). The material can also be manipulated to have various characteristics and can mimic a variety of animal skins! That’s why the fashion world is very excited about it. 

mushroom leather where to buy
Mushroom the future of vegan leather?

On top of this, it’s is incredibly strong, and can even be used as a bulletproof vest or as furniture. It is also great for sensitive skin as mushrooms actually have healing properties. It is also waterproof, so could be your next rainy day wardrobe staple. 

A California-based company working on this called Blot Threads reported it took more than 5 thousand failed experiments to get it right. The name they gave to the material is Mylo.

Mushroom Leather: all you need to know about the next big vegan leather alternative
Mushroom Bag: Leather alternative

Sustainability: mushrooms vs leather 

Actual detailed calculations will be ready by 2022, measuring what is called a life cycle analysis to understand the impact of this material from start to finish – when the final product is discarded.

However, there are already important advantages that make mushroom material a responsible alternative.

The main sustainability attributes are: vegan, save water, lower emissions since no animals are involved in the process of creation in the lab, where also little water or resources are needed to make the mushroom grow.

Mushroom Leather: all you need to know about the next big vegan leather alternative
Hermès Mushroom Leather Bag

Yes! Plastics are still needed

Like many other innovations that substitute leather, the Mushroom material requires little to no chemicals in the dying process. However, most of the current manufacturers – like Bolt Threads with Mylo – do need to use some plastics for performance, making the material bio-based for 50-80% of it. This also means that it is not fully biodegradable. But don’t worry, they are only waiting for us as a community to help brands see that we want this innovation to ultimately shift and eliminate plastics with new science and innovation.

Mushroom material is also going to last for ages in your closet with heavy wear and tear because of its incomparable strength. 

Mushroom Leather: all you need to know about the next big vegan leather alternative
Nat-2’s Fungi Line

So, how to be part of this innovation?

Some well-known brands have already disclosed launches of mushroom leather collections including Nike, Adidas, Hermès, Stella McCartney, Lululemon, and others. At Renoon we still haven’t seen them be fully available to purchase from our partners, so we cannot evaluate the responsibility of these collections, yet. Keep an eye on the Materials of the Future topic in the app and turn notifications on to know when something “non-greenwashy” is launched. 

Mushroom material is forecasted to be the first scalable vegan leather alternative, and millions of dollars have been put into investing in the success of this material, so we can expect to see it all over the place very soon. 

Mushroom Leather: all you need to know about the next big vegan leather alternative
Adidas Mushroom Leather Stan Smith’s

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