A revolutionary step in molding the future of sustainable fashion- Vegan mushroom leather

Kkhushi Sahaii
5 min readApr 29, 2021

“We believe in a future, where animal products are animal-free”

Vegan mushroom leather is a revolutionary, sustainable, and eco-friendly (faux leather) alternative to leather. The distinguishing features and functionality of the product is the non-destructive eco-friendly nature. As compared to regular leather, this product is produced at a far faster rate, providing a long-term competitive advantage.

Vegan Mushroom Leather is a product that has been developed in a space of vacuum, dominated by other leather products to date.

Mycelium, the fibrous roots of fungi, is being crafted into durable clothes, bags and watch straps with a lower carbon cost than animal hides or plastic, and it’s a material that won’t clog up landfills.

“You touch it, and it’s warm. It’s not plastic-like,” said Antoni Gandia, a fungi specialist who works as a scientific consultant with companies developing fungi-based materials.

How does it work?

When mushroom roots are grown on sawdust or agricultural waste, they form a thick mat that can then be treated to resemble leather.

Because it’s the roots and not the mushrooms being used, this natural biological process can be carried out anywhere. It does not require light, converts waste into useful materials and stores carbon by accumulating it in the growing fungus.

Going from a single spore to a finished “fungi leather” product takes a couple of weeks, compared with years required to raise a cow to maturity.

Mild acids, alcohols and dyes are typically used to modify the fungal material, which is then compressed, dried and embossed.

The process is quite simple and can be completed with minimal equipment and resources by artisans. It can also be industrially scaled for mass production. The final product looks and feels like animal leather and has similar durability.

Pure and untreated fungi-derived leather is also biodegradable.

“You can throw it in your garden. Maybe it takes two years but it will decompose,” Gandia said.

Environmental Hazards of Leather

  1. ANIMALS

Animal skin is turned into finished leather by the application of a variety of dangerous substances, including mineral salts, formaldehyde, coal-tar derivatives, and various oils, dyes, and finishes — some of them cyanide-based.

“Workers break cows’ tails and rub chili peppers and tobacco into their eyes in order to force them to get up and walk after they collapse from exhaustion on the way to the slaughterhouse.”

2. PEOPLE

Chemicals used to tan leather pollute the surrounding environment, greatly endangering both the workers and neighboring inhabitants.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the incidence of leukemia among residents in an area near one tannery in Kentucky was five times the U.S. average.

3. ENVIRONMENT

Leather is the number one most environmentally problematic material used in the fashion industry.

Eutrophication- a serious ecological problem in which runoff waste creates an overgrowth of plant life in water systems, which suffocates animals by depleting oxygen levels in the water and is the leading cause of hypoxic zones, also known as “dead zones.”

Huge amounts of fossil fuels are consumed in livestock production as well, and cow-derived leather has almost three times the negative environmental impact.

“The production of leather hurts animals, the environment, and the workers who manufacture it. The only ones who benefit are people who profit from the misery and suffering of others.”

Advantages of Vegan Mushroom Leather

  1. Absorbs moisture from the skin-
  2. Breathable and water-repellent
  3. No animals are harmed
  4. Consumes considerably fewer resources
  5. The fungus can also grow in different patterns and colours- no need to treat it with chemicals later on in the process.

Social shift towards Vegan Mushroom Leather

Brands like Hermes are using Vegan leather for their travel bags and leather accessories this shows that luxury brands are adopting this cultural change from animal skin leather.

Even so more Mycotech- a company that grows the mushroom used for the leather has been certified, showing the paradigm shift in how commercial companies are accepting this innovation.

“We created the world’s first-ever garments from this vegan mushroom leather — more realistic, without plastic.”
We created the world’s first-ever garments from this vegan mushroom leather — more realistic, without plastic.

Adidas unleashed its “Our Icons Go Vegan” range, recreating plant-based versions of the Stan Smith, the Continental, and the Samba, which could mean your favorite classics will be entirely comprised from fungi by 2021.

16 Luxury Vegan Leather Brands

  1. Doshi
  2. Stella McCartney
  3. Will’s Vegan Shoes
  4. Ethique212
  5. Angela Roi
  6. Beyond Skin
  7. Urban Expressions
  8. Brave GentleMan
  9. Matt & Nat
  10. Lunus
  11. Gunas
  12. LaBante London
  13. Wilby
  14. HFS Collective
  15. PINKSTIX
  16. Hozen

“We believe that solutions to our most vexing problems can be found in nature and use this to create and scale sustainable materials for the apparel and beauty industries”

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