Earlier this month Ecovative, the New York-based mycelium technology company, announced the launch of an international sustainable fashion cooperative with global brands BESTSELLER and PVH CORP. as founding members.
This cooperative allows these brands to have priority access to Ecovative’s mycelium innovations through its Forager™ Hides platform. The brands will also be working directly with the team at Ecovative to co-develop custom mycelium materials for a range of end products and consumer applications.
The global innovation platform Fashion for Good was vital in bringing the three parties together and moving forward the search for a petroleum-free vegan leather. Both BESTSELLER and PVH Corp. share Ecovative’s commitment to sustainable fashion. Going forward, both brands’ designers will work side by side with the Ecovative team of engineers and mycologists to develop mycelium solutions for their products.
Members in the Fashion for Good Cooperative will bring their fashion industry expertise to work with Ecovative in a design, build and test research, and development strategy. Together, the cooperative is looking at how it will go forward with developing mycelium materials for the consumer market.
“At PVH we are excited to explore innovations that reduce the environmental impact of our products,” said Rebecca England, VP Innovation, PVH Europe. “Mycelium provides us with an opportunity to respond to growing consumer interest in lower impact products while supporting quality and design that meet the needs and expectations of our consumers – in this case, made with 100% bio-based resources. We look forward to testing and learning alongside our partners to create scalable sustainable solutions.”
Ecovative has been producing materials made from mycelium for over a decade for partners throughout North America, Europe and Asia. In March of this year, it launched Forager™ Hides, its alternative leather material. This new launch is based on the company’s second-generation mycelium material, building on more than five years of research and development in Ecovative’s Mycelium Foundry. It is a 100 percent bio-based mycelium material, grown in sheets up to 24 meters or 78.74 feet long and 1.8 meters or 5.91 feet wide. It is adaptable and can be grown to meet the specific needs of each partner in terms of tensile strength, density and fiber orientation. The entire growth process only takes nine days and yields a ready-to-finish material free of plastic scrims and petroleum-based coatings.
For those that are unaware, mycelium is the root structure of mushrooms, and has very promising properties for various applications across a number of industries. You can read more about it in our early 2021 story, “Why Mushroom Leather May Be the Next Frontier in Earth-Friendlier Materials.”
“Mycelium shows great potential in the fashion innovation sphere – it even extends far beyond our own industry. We are keen on diving into the product development phase and really understanding the aesthetics and actual performance of Ecovative’s innovative materials in the lab,” said Anders Schorling Overgård, BESTSELLER’s Sustainable Materials Engineer. “This pilot enables us to gain more insight into mycelium as a leather alternative, which ultimately is both biodegradable and fully bio-based.”
This material is naturally versatile in its use, from soft and supple leather accessories and garments to durable and thick belts and shoes, scientists are able to tailor their product to meet a wide array of end product needs.
While any advance in the world of non-petroleum based vegan leathers is great, this isn’t the first cooperative of the sort that has been created surrounding mycelium leather innovations. A couple of years back, Mylo of Bolt Threads, a mycelium material maker, and probably Ecovative’s biggest “competitor,” launched its own cooperative with adidas, Stella McCartney and Lululemon. This is only a good sign in our view, since this means that there is a growing demand for natural-based vegan leather.