Sustainability is vitally important for fashion brands in 2021, and this month two luxury labels are setting a new bar with the introduction of collections made from a vegan leather alternative. Longtime environmentally conscious label Stella McCartney and iconic French house Hermès have both announced the release of accessories and garments made exclusively from mushroom leather, a material that uses an endlessly renewable fungi root system to replicate the look and feel of animal-derived leather. Here, find out why these sustainable luxe pieces are the ones to watch this year.
You may not immediately associate mushrooms with luxury, but this season two famed fashion houses are on a mission to connect the dots. This month, Stella McCartney and Hermès both announced that they would be producing pieces made from mycelium, the renewable underground root system of fungi. The brands have partnered with two different biotechnology companies to produce pieces in the leather-esque material, and the results more than live up to the labels’ luxe standards.
For their first foray into mushroom leather, legendary leather goods label Hermès has recreated its Victoria bag, a chic travel bag previously produced in richly hued leathers, in Sylvania mycelium leather and plume canvas. Described by the French house as ‘a hybrid of nature and biotechnology,’ Sylvania is the result of an exclusive collaboration between Hermès and Californian company MycoWorks, which created the premium material by enhancing natural mycelium as it grows to create a finer fibre.
The expert Hermès tanners then crafted the material into a strong, durable fabric which was structured by the house’s craftspeople into the Victoria bag’s soft yet sturdy shape. The result is a timeless and striking piece, with contrast panels of amber hued, supple leather-esque sides and beige canvas with stark black straps.
Stella McCartney’s black bustier top and utilitarian trousers were both made with Mylo™️, a mycelium-made leather alternative produced by American biotechnology company Bolt Threads
For Stella McCartney, the use of a mushroom-derived leather alternative is the latest experiment in an ongoing commitment to sustainable fashion that has been a core of the brand since it launched 20 years ago. Picking up on the ‘V is for Vegan’ point of the McCartney A to Z Manifesto that was released at the end of 2020 outlining the brand’s updated commitments to making collections as eco-friendly as possible, this month Stella McCartney announced that they’d created two pieces using mushroom leather.
A black bustier top and pair of utilitarian trousers were made with Mylo™️, a mycelium-made leather alternative produced by American biotechnology company Bolt Threads. Kering, the parent company of Stella McCartney as well as Adidas and Gucci, announced last year that they were investing in the innovative material, and McCartney’s two garments represent its first fashionable application. The top and trousers, handcrafted from panels of Mylo™️ laid on recycled nylon scuba, are signature McCartney — expertly tailored with a sexy, feminine edge, while the panelling structure and lines give the pieces a slightly athletic aesthetic. Although the pieces are not going to be sold, they do demonstrate the possibilities that lie ahead for the label’s collaboration with Mylo™️, and fashion’s abilities to embrace sustainable practices without compromising on style.