Hermès, as you know, is famous for its bags and long waiting lists for these bags. But last year, we saw the brand’s name in the headlines for a completely different reason: The new version of the $3,500 Victoria bag was made from lab-grown biotextile leather Sylvania – which is mushroom.
Luxury brands are now using all their means to achieve their sustainability goals. Applications such as leasing instead of selling and the use of recycled materials are increasing. For example, new Levi’s 501s are made from old Levi’s 501s. A large amount of cash is poured into the development of new generation fabrics that can replace environmentally harmful textile production. Tommy Hilfiger making shoes from apple peel and Paul Smith making shoes from pineapple leaves. Grape is a material that Pangaia uses instead of leather.
In January, it was announced that MycoWorks, which developed the material of Hermès’ leather mushroom bag, received $125 million in investment support. This funding puts the California startup at the forefront of the bio-alternative materials race.
Currently, MycoWorks operates in a factory in Emeryville on the San Francisco Bay coast and can only manufacture Sylvania leather on a small scale, which it derives from its pioneering biomaterial Fine Mycelium.
The fashion industry generates high levels of pollution due to overproduction, the use of synthetic fibers and the processing of animal hides. Many of the first-generation vegan alternatives used plastic, which came with its own environmental problems. Now, thread nets from mycelium fungus are used, which do not take hundreds of years to degrade like plastic, and this material can be grown quickly, easily and with inexhaustible resources. It is also a versatile material.
Perhaps change will come not through any company but through a collective action. Like fur, leather can go out of fashion at any moment.