Innovation That Matters

Vegan leather | Photo source Bolt Threads

New vegan leather made from mushrooms


A California biotech company has devised a vegan leather made from mushroom mycelium

At the beginning of 2018, Springwise highlighted biotech company Bolt Threads, which had devised a way to bioengineer a yeast-based spider silk for use as threads in clothing manufacture. Bolt wove the material into ties and hats, which it sold through Stella McCartney and Patagonia. But the vision of Bolt’s founder, Dan Widmaier, was always bigger than just one material. So, now Bolt has done it again, with a plant-based synthetic leather suitable for use in clothing. Mylo is a new material that uses the mycelium, a fungus found in the root structure of mushrooms.

While most vegan leathers are made from plastics, which are not eco-friendly and do not feel like real leather, Mylo is plant-based. This makes it more sustainable than petroleum-based materials. Mylo can be grown in a small space, with minimal environmental impact. It can also be coloured with other natural materials, such as tannins extracted from tea leaves. Bolt developed the new product in partnership with Ecovative Design, who developed the mycelium bio-fabrication platform used to grow the faux leather.

Bolt is not yet able to scale up production to the extent that they can make mushroom leather for the same price as the real stuff. However, the company is again partnering with Stella McCartney to produce a bag made from the materials. The Falabella bag will be on display from April at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and will be available for pre-order in June. Says McCartney, “On a personal and professional level, partnering with Bolt Threads is so exciting, because it feels like everything is finally coming together and the dots are being connected between fashion, sustainability and tech innovation.”

At Springwise, we have seen a number of innovations aimed at improving the sustainability of clothing manufacture, including pyjamas made from recycled hotel linens and biodegradable clothing made from waste methane. What other materials used in garment manufacture might one day be produced synthetically from organic materials?



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