MycoWorks, a California-based start-up biotechnology company, has been on the mind of every eco-conscious fashionista since it debuted Fine Mycelium, a luxury alternative to calf leather, during fall 2020 fashion week. Fine Mycelium seems too good to be true—it is non-animal and non-plastic, it is biodegradable, and it has a much lower carbon footprint than both cowhide and vegan leathers. Many vegan leathers are plastic-based, which is an environmental concern because they are not biodegradable. Fine Mycelium is a type of premium mushroom-based leather made from mycelium, the threadlike part of a fungus. This trademarked biomaterial can be tanned and dyed just like cowhide leather, and even achieve similarly grained, embossed, or pebbled finishes. In tests, it has proven to be stronger than leather, and just as durable.
Most importantly, it looks and feels like premium leather, so it could be a viable option to replace cowhide leather if embraced by the industry and consumers. If its first brand collaboration is anything to go by, Fine Mycelium will be a huge success. The first object crafted from Fine Mycelium is from the luxury French house Hermès, known for its sumptuous leather. Pierre-Alexis Dumas, Hermès artistic director, says, “MycoWorks’ vision and values echo those of Hermès: a strong fascination with natural raw material and its transformation, a quest for excellence, with the aim of ensuring that objects are put to their best use and that their longevity is maximized. With Sylvania, Hermès is at the heart of what it has always been: innovation in the making.”
The new Victoria tote bag is crafted in Sylvania, a new material made of Fine Mycelium. MycoWorks grows and harvests the Fine Mycelium in its facility and Hermès tans and finishes it in its French ateliers, giving it the same luxurious finish and beautiful colors as its classic pieces. Sylvania has a beautiful amber patina and is crafted with the same level of care as traditional leather. The Victoria bag is finished with H Plume canvas and calfskin accents and will be available for purchase later this year.