THE NEW MONEY-MAKING MACHINE FOR FASHION BRANDS
The leather industry is one of the biggest offenders – regarding the negative environmental impacts, including deforestation and methane emissions, as well as heavy use of harmful chemicals.
The fashion industry is one of the biggest polluters, emitting more than 20 billion tonnes of CO2 per year. And 38% [of them] come from material production. That’s why all brands are now committed to reducing emissions by finding low-carbon alternatives.
- NOT ALL TYPES OF VEGAN LEATHER ARE ENVIRONMENTALLY SUSTAINABLE
- PLANT-BASED TEXTILE ALTERNATIVES
- WHAT IS MUSHROOM LEATHER?
- 3 MUSHROOM LEATHER MANUFACTURERS
- GROWING PARTNERSHIPS
- SUSTAINABILITY OVER THE WORLD
- THE NEW MONEY-MAKING MACHINE FOR FASHION BRANDS
NOT ALL TYPES OF VEGAN LEATHER ARE ENVIRONMENTALLY SUSTAINABLE
Some faux leathers require plastic to be produced, while others only require plant-based materials. The artificial materials used to produce artificial leather in particular raise sustainability questions. However, some reports state that the production of faux leather is still more sustainable than real leather, the impact of vegan leather production can be up to a third lower than real leather.
All alternative leathers are made of synthetic materials, polyurethane or polyvinyl chloride (better known as PVC), sometimes leading to the term “pleather”. Manufacturing PVC requires a plasticizer called phthalate to make it flexible and soft. PVC requires petroleum and large amounts of energy and is therefore dependent on fossil fuels. During production, carcinogenic by-products are created, dioxins that are toxic to humans and animals, cruelty-free does not always mean chemical-free, thus vegan but not environmentally friendly.
PLANT-BASED TEXTILE ALTERNATIVES
The luxury fashion industry’s interest in plant-based textile alternatives is growing every day.
Lightweight, easy to manufacture and biodegradable, many designers are thriving to fashion mushroom leather in the green era of fashion design.
Some other mushroom leather companies still limit their sales to a very specific group of well-known designers and brands, emerging luxury designers, scarcity always makes the product more expensive.
WHAT IS MUSHROOM LEATHER?
Mushroom leather is a vegan material that has a good and environmentally friendly alternative to the animal leather, the mushroom one is made from the infinitely renewable mycelium, the system of fungi in the root that looks like leather.
3 MUSHROOM LEATHER MANUFACTURERS
Wheter or not is the first time that you hear about mushroom leather, it´s a market that has been developing during the last years, and these are some of the producers;
- Mylo is the mushroom textile developed by biotechnology company Bolt Threads.
- Reishi developed by MycoWorks, “a biotech company, but created by artists”, said Ms. Wang, who is now the company’s chief of culture.
- Forager, developed by Ecovative’s specialized soft goods division. An approach synthetic-free, and totally vegan materials for the fashion industry.
Well, many redundant words that make us lose ourselves and not see or understand significant differences between these products. These companies differentiate between the technology used, their platform, the patent, the product, the subdivisions of their company, etc…
As I do not want to be mistaken, going into the details, I provide you the links of the companies in case you want to go deeper, since in my modest understand could become a rabbit hole.
A huge number of fashion brands are growing partnerships with innovative mushroom-based leather in 2022. These included partners Stella McCartney, GANNI and lululemon, who each introduced handbags and other accessories with the unique mushroom-based material.
Bolt Threads partnered with Mercedes-Benz, thus Mylo is the material used for the seat cushion details in the VISION EQXX electric car.
Hermes debuted their Victoria bag, which featured MycoWork’s Fine Mycelium material.
SUSTAINABILITY OVER THE WORLD
It is clear that the sustainable niche always attracts many brands because they know that positioning themselves at the right time will bring them great benefits, but it is amazing how mushroom leather producers can be found all over the world;
Adi Reza Nugroho, born and raised in a small town in Bandung, Indonesia, was inspired by the concept of “sustainability” when he spent time working on a traditional housing project.
This work experience made him realize that materials such as steel are not always necessary to make sturdy buildings; Sturdy structures can also be made from agricultural waste.
First by starting a mushroom farm with the intention of creating a sustainable material in the future.
They grew gourmet mushrooms on their farm. However, his intention was not to sell them forever, but to start a sustainability-focused startup. So whenever they generated profits in the business, they used the money for research at Mycotech Lab (MYCL).
This Indonesian startup is just a company that makes an eco-friendly leather-like material from mushrooms. There is optimism that plant-based fabrics could make the fashion industry more sustainable
Adi Reza Nugroho co-founded Mycotech with a mission to create the highest quality mycelium-based materials that meet the highest standards of the biotech industry. It also wants to make a real impact by reducing the use of animals in the fashion industry and providing sustainable material that meets the uncompromising standards of the fashion industry.
The production of clothes and home textiles is a major source of gas emissions and water pollution. About 10% of total global emissions come from the production of clothing while around 35% of all microplastics in the oceans comes from clothing…
“We call our business a social enterprise, an impact-driven company. So we try to do good, and do well: doing good means we are creating positive impact for the environment and society, but as same time doing well means we can still gain some profit and revenue”
If you want to see a short video of how they developed the company, here is the link;
THE NEW MONEY-MAKING MACHINE FOR FASHION BRANDS
I am sure that all parties are already contributing to a more sustainable world with a better or worse mushroom leather. In any case, from an investor point of view, although this could be the new money making machine for fashion brands, we cannot make the mistake of going into unnecessary details or comparisons, since early adoption is the most important thing when opening a new niche, new players will appear in the game, others may disappear, but I ask myself several questions;
- How are we going to comment this from an ethical point of view?
- Which one is the best mushroom leather?
- Should it be the one that most resembles the animal leather, or the one that is most sustainable?
- Do these companies really care about the environment or just they see the opportunity to develop a product?
I´m being a critical thinker, and If we forget all this questions, the only interesting thing will be to invest soon in these companies, because right now few talk about them, but the moneymakers are positioning themselves as usual.
I don’t want the same thing happens as with meat companies, which kill thousands of animals, but then offer vegan food products to satisfy that niche market, resulting in a poor exercise of ethics.