As the call for sustainability within the trade continues to grow more pertinent than ever, the option for fungal based leather goods seems most appropriate.
At the moment, only two major ways of producing leather exist: the traditional way via a cow's hide, which takes time (and is seen as unethical), as well as the alternative method, which in a very catch-22 type way requires plastic, and therefore oil. This new method of producing leather via fungus may soon trump traditional techniques and take over the industry altogether.
The leather itself is derived from a mat of mycelium, which essentially is nothing more than thick sheets of woven fungus, similar to the type that pops up naturally after rain. The magic in these mycelium mats lies in their ability to grow easily on any organic surface, such as sawdust or agricultural waste. This ability speaks to its potential within the world of regenerative practices and placing energy back into nature’s equilibrium like state.
“With leather, you’re limited to the skin that an animal produces over its life, whereas mycelial mats can be grown to specifications,” Sophia Wang, co-founder of MycoWorks, in her recent interview with Asher Elbein for the New York Times.
Dr Alexander Bismarck, a materials scientist at the University of Vienna who helped to co-author the recently published study in Nature Sustainability, also takes note of the potential for custom design specifications within fungal-produced leather fibres. Given the scope of the fungal matter, as well as the extent of organic materials they may thrive upon, leather can be specifically produced to be say extra stretchy, or water-resistant, or stain-resistant, or extra rough. The possibilities are as wide-ranging as the millions of fungal species there are to choose from.
News courtesy: Fibre2Fashion