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Mushrooms replace animal skin in fashion

Mushrooms replace animal skin in fashion
Mushrooms replace animal skin in fashion

The fashion and product design industry is looking for something to replace animal skin and its synthetic imitations, so a number of brands are betting on an alternative based on mushroom mycelium. In the past few years, there has been a lot of hype around the plant-based leather alternative, but only a few products are available for purchase. 

However, since July, Stella McCartney and Bolt Threads have been selling the first luxury bag made from mushroom leather material.

There has been a lot of hype around the plant-based leather alternative mycelium, but so far very little in the way of products. Stella McCartney and Bolt Threads are about to change that, with their first luxury bag made from Mylo — Bolt Threads’s mushroom leather material — going on sale 1 July.


Sustainability experts agree that to bring innovative materials to scale, it is crucial to have brand support and investment. Stella McCartney was an early supporter of mycelium, joining Bolt Threads’s consortium of brand backers alongside Lululemon, Kering and Adidas.

A spate of fashion brands have since invested in the vegan leather alternative, touting its ability to mimic animal leather without relying on plastics. The Hermès Victoria bag has been reimagined in mycelium produced by San Francisco startup MycoWorks, which secured $125 million in Series C funding in January to scale its operations. Premium athletic brand Lululemon released a yoga mat and two gym bags made from Mylo in early 2022, the latter of which are currently available to purchase through the brand’s website, and are on display at Selfridges in London, alongside Stella McCartney’s early prototypes of a Mylo bra top and leggings.

The Frayme Mylo bag was first introduced during Stella McCartney’s SpringSummer 2022 fashion show in Paris, in October 2021. It is inspired by McCartney’s signature Falabella tote bag, with an oversized recyclable aluminium chain strap lining the Mylo crescent moon-shaped clutch. For now the Frayme bag is available only in black, but new colours will be introduced in the future. Earlier versions of Mylo were too stiff to be used for handbags, according to McCartney, and many mycelium producers have struggled to match the durability of animal leather.

The more brands experiment with mycelium, the faster producers will be able to solve challenges and make the material more accessible. “If everyone was invested in sustainability, it would develop so much quicker,” said McCartney when unveiling the Frayme Mylo.

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