Happy Earth Week, readers!
We hope you’re taking some time to get some fresh air. A building block of our brand revolves around responsible use of materials and worker empowerment in the fashion industry. Our garment process has been done this way since Day 1, so celebrating our earth and our community is a big deal for us. So this week, we’re talking about the S-word: Sustainability.
Sustainability has become quite the fad over the last few years. It’s a word that almost fails to have a succinct meaning anymore when it comes to fashion, and gets thrown around quite a lot without elaboration. It can be hard to differentiate between who’s talking the talk and who’s walking the walk, if you pick up what we’re saying. But today, we’re celebrating those who are truly taking initiative in a space that’s been on everyone’s mind recently: fashion technology.
So, what encompasses fashion tech?
Technological innovation has been a part of the fashion industry, well, since clothes have been designed. And here we are, in the 21st century, with amazing new tech at our fingertips! How does this manifest in the fashion world today? One of the most amazing progressions we’ve seen in the last few years has actually been in textiles. Technical textiles are bioengineered to perform specific functions, like how certain fabrics are resistant to moisture or protect from heat (for example, a firefighter’s suit).
Have you heard of mushroom leather? Probably.
But what’s it made out of? How’s it made?
Mushroom leather is made by combining post-consumer waste (wood chip, discarded organics) with early mushroom spawns to create what’s called mycelium. Mycelium Is the branching cellular structure that makes a mushroom that continues to grow in a thread-like pattern. In nature, mycelium occurs naturally as a biological growing cycle, and actually does a lot to benefit our environment in that stage. The aftergrowth turns to a leather-like material, and bam! The beginnings of mushroom leather have arrived. Mycelium naturally forms a solid foam that can be compressed to be more leather-like. But compressed mycelium, also known as mushroom leather, does not offer the performance and strength of animal and synthetic leathers.
A leader in the advancement of mushroom leather is MYCO, or MycoWorks. They further this growth process with their patented technology Fine Mycelium™, that is used to grow the mycelium structures into strong structures, and can even customize its growth on the cellular level for functions like texture, thickness, strength, and even drapability. To quote the company, “Fine Mycelium™ is a patented technology in a class of its own: the next evolution in mycelium materials. Fine Mycelium™ is the first biomaterial that matches the strength, hand feel and durability of cowhide.”
All done by using a process that our earth has been using since The Big Bang! Pretty amazing stuff. They may be creating the world’s first made-to-order organic textile. Their leather has been featured in specific collaboration with Hermés bags, Allen St. leather accessories, and in luxury furniture with Ligne Roset. This technology is very new, however, and is still very much only available in smaller quantities and not available on a commercial level quite yet.
Despite the early stages, MYCO has been spotted at 2023 Paris Fashion Week, and is making waves in magazines and on the news. General Motors has invested in the company for the possibility of MYCO leather car interiors. At the most recent TechCrunch convention, the company received $125 million to scale their production for wider use. We are sitting at the horizon of some fantastic textile innovation here!
Those are some cold, hard facts for you about tech in fashion. Frankly, it’s more interesting for us as a brand to see companies embrace technology for progress like this rather than another marketing stunt that will be forgotten in a month’s time. This is an innovative change for the long run, and shows a way to work in collaboration with the Earth, rather than efforts that go against it. Fashion designers and bioengineers should become best friends, our shared love of problem solving and use of fundamental materials makes the two seemingly different fields complement each other very well! The fashion industry has its issues, many having to do with the S-word mentioned before, and becoming lab partners with bioengineers is a way we could find some real honest solutions. Creating wellness in fashion isn’t easy. There is a storied past full of mistakes and temporary solutions that do not serve us anymore - we’re seeing a lot more consequences for those actions these days. But we have no reason to fear science in this way. It can help us make true progress in our industry, turn breakdowns into breakthroughs, and create less responsibility anxiety for the folks in the checkout line. This all loops back to taking responsibility to prioritize wellness for designers and customers alike.
Fresh air is good for you! We hope you are celebrating Earth Week accordingly, maybe starting a garden or a compost. The compost might turn into a designer handbag one day! The fashion folks seem to be starting a garden as well, with hope that these biotextile breakthroughs have a ripple effect to impact our Earth in a more positive way. Gardens are a lot of work, but the biggest hurdle is starting one. Once the seed is planted, the natural cycle takes care of the rest. Plus you might never go back to purchasing the old big box produce again - who knows what they put in those fruits.
MYCOWorks Official Website
The Business of Fashion, Exclusive: Hermes Bets on Mushroom-Based “Leather”
Fibre2Fashion, Mushroom Leather Is More Than a Sustainable Alternative to Animal Skin
HighSnobiety, Nick Fouquet & MycoWorks Created Mushroom Leather Luxury Hats.
The Business of Fashion, Exclusive: Hermes Bets on Mushroom-Based “Leather”https://www.businessoffashion.com/articles/sustainability/exclusive-hermes-bets-on-mushroom-leather/