Reishi, a material made from mushroom roots, might replace the animal leather in your closet.
MycoWorks, a San Francisco based biotechnology company, has been working on a mushroom leather alternative and is now ready to scale it up. The company that has been backed by the French luxury design house, Hermès, proved that they can maintain the desired product level while doing production runs for the brand.
Not just that, the company has also received new funding worth US$125 million which will be used to build a new production plant in South Carolina.
Here’s what you should know about mushroom leather
What is mushroom leather?
The mushroom leather alternative is a fine mycelium material known as Reishi. Over 10,000 trays of the sustainable alternative were produced in the first plant last year in an attempt to prove that the desired quantity and quality can be achieved.
The funding will make Reishi more easily available for the brands who want to take the sustainable path. MycoWorks will be collaborating with high-end brands, one of which is Hermès. For the first collaboration between the two brands, MycoWorks customised the Hermès Victoria bag in 2021 with its Sylvania material. There will be many more upcoming high-end collaborations according to Matt Scullin, the CEO of MycoWorks.
How is mushroom leather made?
Reishi, which is a fine mycelium, is made from the renewable root structure of the mushroom (fungi). This structure is used to make customisable material that feels just like animal leather. Apart from the texture, the durability of alternate leather is also said to be similar to animal leather.
Because the material is customisable, the texture can be altered to the preference of the buyer, including the width and changing hand-feel of the material. Past investors of the company also include Grammy-winning singer John Legend and Academy Award-winning actor Natalie Portman.
Competitors in the market
The fashion world is currently steering towards more sustainable and vegan alternatives to leather and MycoWorks is attempting to provide exactly what the market wants. However, it is not an untapped space. Recently, Gucci developed its own vegan leather called Demetra which they used in Ace Sneakers and will soon be available to the rest of the world. Stella McCartney, a brand that is already associated with sustainable luxury, works with Bolt Thread’s mylo material.
(Main and Feature Image: Hermès’ new travel bag made with mushroom leather)
This article originally appeared on Prestige Hong Kong.