MUSHROOM MATERIAL: An update on the (literally) growing fashion trend

How the magical mycelium structure of mushrooms is stepping in to save the fashion world.

Words Sara Black
Photography Supplied

A mere year ago, talk of mushrooms may have conjured up thoughts of risotto, soup and vegetarian stroganoff. Now a new bunch of vocab has entered the fungi picture — hats, leather and more.

In breaking mushrooms new, Bolt Threads have signed the dotted line with four major fashion players — Stella McCartney, adidas, lululemon and Kering (Gucci, Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta, Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen and more) — on a consortium deal to help speed up the process of bringing a fungi material to the masses as quickly as possible.

California-based Bolt Threads are a relatively new start-up (2009) founded by a group of global executives from the technology and apparel industries. Mylo, the name of the textile, is an experimental material with a texture and look not dissimilar to leather. It’s sustainable, uses far less water, greenhouse gases and resources than its authentic leather counterpart and doesn’t involve the killing of animals.

“We had to convince these industry competitors that this was about tackling a bigger challenge together than any of them could solve alone.” — Dan Widmaier, Bolt Threads CEO.

How does it work? The material’s core ingredient is mycelium, a thread-structure that mushrooms (and other fungi) use to grow, much like the roots of a tree. These cells are fed with sawdust and other organic material and placed on square growing mats. In a humidity- and temperature-controlled environment, they are allowed to grow into a foamy layer and finally harvested.

Through further processing, the mycelium network is turned into a sheet of material that resembles cork but much thinner and more flexible, which is then tanned and dyed.

With the fashion industry holding fort as one of the main perpetrators of pollution, we can only foresee good to come from this pioneering material.

mylo mushroom
mylo mushroom


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