Mushrooms are having a moment, and it has nothing to do with social media’s cottagecore obsession. As we approach the end of 2020 with sustainability at the forefront of conversation, more and more fashion labels turn to innovative ways of revolutionizing the fashion industry. One of these methods is introducing renewable fabrics like Mylo: a leather-like material created by bioengineering company, Bolt Threads.
The company was founded in 2009 with the mission to “develop better materials for a better world.” In 2018, the California-based company unveiled Mylo. The sustainably-produced textile is derived from fungi, specifically, mycelium cells (AKA, a mushroom’s root structure), and the final product looks and feels like real leather.
The brilliant minds at Bolt Threads simplify the seemingly complicated process into four not-so-difficult-to-understand steps. First, they extract the aforementioned mycelium cells from shrooms, and then they grow more cells on “beds of renewable, organic matter.” The result is billions of cells that merge to form a giant foamy layer. Then, they tan and dye the material—and voilà! Mylo’s born. This process only takes a matter of days.
This means that fashion brands are about to start turning to this as a sustainable alternative to leather. Adidas, Lululemon, and Stella McCartney are on-board and Kering (the major fashion conglomerate’s labels include, but are not limited to Gucci, Alexander McQueen, and Balenciaga). These brands have come together to form the Mylo consortium. According to a New York Times interview with Bolt Threads founder Dan Widmaier, each of the companies has invested “seven-figure sums” to the partnership.
Shoppers will be able to purchase products made using Mylo in 2021. That includes items from your favorite previously mentioned labels. But that’s not to say that we haven’t had a glimpse of the fabric before. In 2018, the Bolt Threads team worked with McCartney to create the Mylo-ized version of the English fashion designer’s iconic Falabella bag that same year.
McCartney started working with Mylo in 2017. “Many people associate leather with luxury, but since the beginning, I always wanted to approach things in a different way,” said the designer in a statement. “Killing animals for the sake of fashion is quite simply not acceptable.”
And even before the brand teamed up with McCartney, Bolt Threads developed its first commercial product—the Mylo Driver Bag—in collaboration with Oregon-based fashion brand Chester Wallace. The company limited its KickStar sales to 100 bags at $400 apiece. They are no longer available, but we can only hope that they will be re-released in 2021.
Celebs are playing a role in the fungi trend, too. Mushrooms are becoming a trend in their own right, loved by stars like Bella Hadid. The supermodel is, well, obsessed with all-things mushrooms: fungi-themed shirts, mushroom jewelry, and even nail art inspired by nature’s gift decorate her Instagram feed. Dua Lipa’s in on the trend too. This past September, she posed for a mirror selfie showing off her Wildflower Shrooms iPhone Case.
No matter how you decide to wear your shrooms, you can’t go wrong.