In recent years, the traditional leather industry has become increasingly scrutinized for its environmental impact. The leather production process requires large amounts of energy and water, and the chemicals used to treat the leather can be hazardous to human health and the environment. Fortunately, a sustainable alternative has emerged—Mushroom (mycelium) leather.
Mushroom leather is a green, vegan, and sustainable "leather" made without animal products. Instead, mushroom leather is a product of mycelium, the root structure of mushrooms . The mycelium is grown in a lab and then combined with organic matter agricultural byproducts to form a material with the look and feel of leather, aka Mushroom Leather.
The production process for mycelium leather is considered green and environmentally friendly, similar to cactus leather and grape leather. It requires no harmful chemicals, and Mushroom Leather can be produced in a fraction of the time, with a fraction of the energy, compared to traditional leather production. It requires little water and no light to produce mycelium. Additionally, the mushroom leather production process has no waste, as all the materials used are either recycled, reused, and/or bio-based.
The process of producing mushroom leather begins by harvesting mycelium from mushroom farms. The mycelium is then dried and formed into sheets molded into desired shapes and sizes. To create the Mushroom Leather textile, the natural material, mycelium, is fermented with a natural binding agent, such as vegetable oil, and then dried and treated. Like traditional animal leather, this process makes the mycelium more pliable and durable. The last step is to dye the leather to achieve the desired color. After dying, the mushroom leather is ready for use in fashion and other applications like product design.
Another interesting point is that this material can mold and grow into highly durable forms used in the industrial and product design industry. I've explored its uses for planters and bowls. It's also used for packing material in Wine Industry; see the image below for an example. Seeing how far Mycellium has come regarding processing and prototyping is
What is Mushroom leather's binding agent? Mushroom leather utilizes its mycelium fiber and is held together by hyphae. Hyphae are microscopic filaments that make up the mycelium and are responsible for the binding properties that make mycelium an attractive building block for mushroom materials. , ,  As mycelium grows, the fibers strengthen, providing an excellent option for use in products such as mushroom leather. Heat treatment helps the fibers bind together, making the material more durable and flexible.
The benefits of mushroom leather are undeniable.
- 1. It is soft, flexible, and warm, yet more robust and abrasion-resistant than animal hides.
- 2. It produces very quickly with little water and sunlight. Unlike animal hides, which take years to grow, Mushroom leather is created in weeks in a carefully controlled environment. This makes it possible to control the material's properties, such as thickness, shape, and more.
- 3. Moisture-wicking properties. Compared to synthetic polyurethane leather, Mushroom leather has much more moisture-wicking strength.
In addition, this material has the potential to be significantly more sustainable than animal leather or other leather substitutes. With its unique combination of attributes, it's no wonder that mushroom leather is becoming increasingly popular.
Another green-design point is Mushroom leather, as the production process does not use water or release toxins into the environment. It also does not contain any plastic. This material is entirely natural and does not have any synthetic materials.
Mushroom leather also has plenty of advantages when it comes to styling. It comes in various colors and textures and can be treated to look and feel just like traditional leather.
Overall, mycelium leather is another developing alternative and has the potential to answer all issues that traditional leather has created. There is still much work to be done in regards to colors and overall longevity but this is great to keep in mind as green-design thinking continues to develop in the industry.It is much greener and has many advantages regarding texture styles to create the leather feeling. Mycelium leather is a perfect choice if you're looking for a stylish and sustainable alternative to traditional leather.
Our Cactus Leather Bags are worth checking out if you want to explore plant-based textile alternatives. Additionally, our founder has researched Mycellium as a product design material - be sure to learn more about it here!