Today, eco-conscious designer Stella McCartney unveiled two garments—a bustier and trousers—made with mushroom-based vegan leather Mylo. The luxury designer is the first in the world to use the innovative material, developed by biotechnology startup Bolt Threads, to create garments. Created at McCartney’s atelier in London, both the bustier and trousers are made with recycled scuba nylon and panels of Mylo, which is a material Bolt Threads made from fast-growing mycelium (mushroom root systems). The avant-garde garments are not available for purchase but were created to show the potential of Mylo, which McCartney will feature in future designs.
“I believe the Stella community should never have to compromise luxury desirability for sustainability, and Mylo allows us to make that a reality,” McCartney said. “These rare, exclusive pieces embody our shared commitment with Bolt Threads to innovate a kinder fashion industry—one that sees the birth of beautiful, luxurious materials as opposed to the deaths of our fellow creatures and planet.”
A better vegan leather
Mylo is environmentally superior to animal-derived leather in a variety of areas, including reduced greenhouse gas emissions and lowered water and land use. It is also made without animal cruelty. While it takes years for cows to mature so that their hides can be turned into leather, Mylo is grown in a matter of days and is infinitely renewable. The mushroom leather is also not petroleum-based like many synthetic leathers, which allows more fossil fuels to be kept in the ground and less plastic to be deposited into landfills and oceans.
“Creating new, high-quality biomaterials is a major technological challenge and a massive opportunity for people and the planet. I am incredibly grateful and humbled by Stella and her team for their long-term partnership and support in bringing Mylo to the world,” Dan Widmaier, CEO and founder of Bolt Threads, said. “The material used in these two garments not only represents a huge step forward in both aesthetics and performance of biomaterials, but also marks the beginning of the rollout of product-ready Mylo. This is tangible progress toward large-scale production where Mylo can make a significant positive impact on our planet.”
The leather-free future of fashion
McCartney and Bolt Threads have been working together since 2017 to bring more environmentally and animal-friendly materials to the fashion industry. In 2018, McCartney created the first product to ever use Mylo—a mushroom-leather prototype of her iconic Falabella bag that was showcased at Victoria and Albert Museum’s Fashioned from Nature exhibition in London.
While McCartney is the first to showcase Mylo in her concept designs, members of the Mylo Consortium—a multi-brand partnership Bolt Threads announced in 2020 with McCartney, Adidas, Lululemon, and Kering—are slated to launch new products made with its innovative mushroom-based leather in 2021.
Other companies are also working to create mushroom leather alternatives to animal hides. California-based MycoWorks is currently working with luxury fashion giant Hermès to release a new version of its Victoria handbag, a portion of which is made using Sylvania— the startup’s mushroom-based “Fine Mycelium” vegan leather—by the end of the year.
Photo credit: Stella McCartney