As the fashion world looks for alternatives to plastic and leather, mycelium is rising to the top of the material supply chain. Derived from fungi, including mushrooms, mycelium is actually the underground network of filaments called hyphae. Mycelium has been under the microscope as an option for sustainable construction, but one company is now focusing on it as the answer to replace leather in fashion.

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person wearing mycelium sneakers with feet resting on colorful rug

In a busy first year, Indonesian startup MYCL set a plan into motion, earned B Corp Certification and launched a series of products made from its signature mycelium-based product Mylea. Most of the collection promptly sold out, but products include a watch strap, card tabs, a wallet, a lampshade and sandals. The newest product in the lineup is the x Mylea Better Shoes, vegan leather sneakers made in a collaboration with a variety of fashion brands.

Related: World’s first “living coffin” made of mycelium is used in a burial

mushroom leather sneakers on white background

Naturally, the sneakers are in response to the notoriously dirty and wasteful fashion industry, so the new shoes speak to the statements on the website, “We are the future, We are the genuine, We are the essential, We are the sustainable.”

Not only does leather come at the physical expense of animals, but livestock produces harmful methane emissions, uses excessive amounts of water and requires large sections of land. As for the manufacturing process, leather production has been associated with unsafe working conditions and toxic chemicals being released into nearby groundwater. 

person wearing beige outfit and mushroom leather shoes

Innovative material development advancements such as Mylea offer durable, attractive and ethical options that preserve the planet’s resources and avoid the slaughtering of animals. The company said, “Future technology should be the technology that will make sure that there is a future for next generations. Our innovation offers that.”

MYCL is just getting started. As a lab and material development company, its goal is to continue collaborating with existing industry leaders to provide a wider breadth of useful, fashionable and sustainable products. The technology is here; now the question is, where will it go next?


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