Stella McCartney today presents her first set of clothing made from a new form of artificial leather; Mylo’s non-leather, a mycelium leather created by the startup Bolt Threads. The material, extracted from the root system of fungi, promises to behave and resemble animal leather, at a fraction of the environmental cost. The outfit, a two-piece bustier top and pants, using recycled nylon panels attached to panels from Mylo, marks a step in a whole new world of sustainable fashion. Sadly, this first outfit is not available for purchase, but indicates the direction McCartney is looking to take his merchandise in the near future.
As an animal product, leather is not suitable for certain religious groups, as well as vegans and vegetarians. For decades, companies have produced artificial substitutes that can be used for fashion, luggage, and surface coverings – including car interiors, furniture, and book bindings. But this process has come under more scrutiny in recent years, as most forms of artificial leather are made from petroleum-derived plastics.
A number of companies, including McCartney, Adidas, LuluLemon and the French fashion house that owns Saint Laurent, Balenciaga and Gucci, have all registered with Bolt to use Mylo. McCartney’s first work with Mylo was in 2018, when she designed a version of her. Falabella bag in the material, which was on display at the V&A Museum. Hermés, meanwhile, is working with another company working in a similar field, MycoWorks, on their own alternative to leather, called Rishi. This partnership has already produced the Victoria bag, luxury luggage that you probably can’t afford.
But where the world of high fashion leads, hopefully the mass market will follow, and as these companies get used to working with artificial leather, the more adopted they will be. This should mean reducing the volume of plastic-leather items – which are often very fragile – in favor of something more solid, but also guilt-free.