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Major brands back Mylo mushroom leather

Mylo is a unique new material made from infinitely renewable mycelium which looks and feels like leather, developed by biotechnology company Bolt Threads

5th October 2020

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Emeryville, CA


Adidas, Kering, lululemon, and Stella McCartney are the major brand names in the consortium which has secured exclusive access to Mylo – a unique new material made from infinitely renewable mycelium which looks and feels like leather, developed by biotechnology company Bolt Threads, of Emeryville, California.

These brands will begin bringing products featuring Mylo to market in 2021, following what is the largest joint development agreement in consumer biomaterials to date.

Made from infinitely renewable mycelium – the branching underground structure of mushrooms – Mylo is created using a highly efficient growing process that is intentionally designed to be low impact, taking less than two weeks to grow, emitting fewer greenhouse gases and using less water and resources than animal leather.

We start by reproducing what happens on the forest floor in a controlled indoor environment, Bolt Threads explains on the Mylo website. We take spores of mycelia cells and feed them sawdust and organic material, and place all of that on a square mat while controlling the humidity and temperature. The mycelium grows into a foamy layer — imagine a big bag of smushed marshmallows. Once the mycelium is harvested, we compost the leftover byproducts. We then process and dye that sheet of mycelium and it becomes the Mylo that gets used to make footwear, handbags, wallets, phone cases, and other gorgeous products, Bolt says.

“We are thrilled to be working with partners who recognise that we are in a race to develop sustainable solutions to conventional technologies,” said Bolt Threads CEO Dan Widmaier. “They are joining forces and investing in a solution that can scale. These forward-thinking companies collectively represent hundreds of millions of square feet of potential demand for Mylo. Most importantly, this is an ongoing commitment to develop materials and products for a more sustainable future.”

“Many people associate leather with luxury but since the beginning I always wanted to approach things in a different way because killing animals for the sake of fashion is quite simply not acceptable,” said Stella McCartney. “Working so closely with Bolt Threads since 2017 has been a career changing experience and I cannot wait to launch Mylo products in 2021.”

Consortium partners were drawn to Mylo because of its remarkable resemblance to soft, supple leather. It can be used like animal or synthetic leather and can take on any colour, finish or emboss.

“For too long the industry standard has categorised materials as either natural or highly functional, but not both,” said James Carnes, VP of global brand strategy at adidas. “The way to remedy this is to innovate responsibly with solutions that challenge the status quo, and products that use the best of what nature has spent millions of years perfecting – like Mylo – are critical to that.”   

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