Leather is one of the most fashionable textiles around. It’s managed to persist for thousands of years and still maintain a reputation as the epitome of cool—but it’s also one of the most ecologically irresponsible textiles.
Cattle ranching is one of the costliest uses of land out there, and the sheer scale of the ranching industry is having a catastrophic effect on our global carbon emissions. Fortunately, the extent of human ingenuity is limitless, and the last few decades have seen a cottage industry pop up for vegan alternatives to leather. Some are more effective than others, but the most promising grow from the ground like common mushrooms.
And despite its unusual origins, you’d be hard-pressed to distinguish it from the real thing.
A Push in the Right Direction
And if you don’t understand that what you’re looking at isn’t traditional leather, you won’t understand instinctively just how important this new textile is.
Major fashion brands see the potential in sustainability, and they’ve made Mylo’s unique mushroom leather a formative part of their strategies looking forward. 2020 saw Mylo breach the public awareness in a big way, with brands as prominent as Lululemon and Stella McCartney having highlighted products made from Mylo on the runway and in their catalogs. In fact, Adidas announced their plans to ensure that 60% of their products are sustainable by 2021.
A Revolution Worth Adopting
Major brands endorsing brands like Mylo is an exciting tide change, but it’s not the result of a bunch of companies suddenly developing an environmental consciousness. No, these brands are enthusiastically working with Mylo because it actually provides an effective alternative to leather. In other words, they see where the future is going.
And the truth is that what separates this type of leather from the more conventional form of cow leather is pretty exciting. Various forms of vegan leather have been a part of the fashion industry for years. PVC and PU leather have long been a common replacement for companies that are looking for cheaper results, but they’re hardly a vast improvement ecologically.
Since they’re derived from petroleum, these forms of faux leather are not biodegradable, and the chemicals made in their construction can actually leak out into your skin or the environment. And while intrepid fashion manufacturers are trying natural leather alternates like kelp and bamboo, most have seen these as a complement to, rather than an outright replacement for, animal leather.
A Replacement That Gets Everything Right
What separates mushroom leather from those other alternatives is how well it actually manages to resemble leather. In terms of feel, look, and durability, mushroom leather is largely indistinguishable from the leather you’d get out of an animal’s hide.
That comes with it a distinct natural advantage: the fact that mushroom leather doesn’t create any direct harm to animals. But that’s just scratching the surface of the advantages available here.
Raising cows for leather takes years and a huge expenditure of carbon that’s released as methane into the air. That’s not a problem when producing mushroom leather. The mycelium which serves as the framework for mushrooms develops into a thick carpet that grows prodigiously. In other words, you can get a full sheet of leather for weeks rather than years—and unlike with cow leather, none of that leather needs to go to waste.
Brands are adopting Mylo because it works. Customers can’t tell the difference, and the results are cheaper and easier to produce without having to make any major sacrifices. Mylo is the first leather substitute to give real cow leather a run for its money, and it’s likely you’ll be seeing a lot more of it both on the runway and in retailers.