Mushrooms are having a moment.
Inspired by Ganni’s commitment to eliminate the use of virgin animal leather from its product line by 2023, Bolt Threads and Ganni have joined together to launch the Green Pastures Pledge, an initiative that aims to incentivize brands to remove the use of virgin leather in their supply chain in exchange for preferred access to Bolt Threads’ mycelium leather Mylo material.
Mylo is an innovative material made from mycelium, the underground root-like system of fungi. Mushrooms are the fruits of mycelium and Mylo is widely known as “mushroom leather.” Mylo material is certified bio-based, 100 percent animal-free, chromium-free, DMFa free, and is grown in cutting-edge vertical farming facilities that are powered by 100 percent renewable energy. It is deemed a natural fiber textile by ISO standards.
The mushroom-material is one of the first such novelties to be approved by Eurofins Chem-MAP’s Vegan Verification program. Bolt Threads has previously teamed with the likes of Adidas, Lululemon and Stella McCartney on the popular leather alternative.
Announced on stage at Web Summit on Nov. 4, Bolt Threads’ Mylo material is under demand as the company works to scale its supply chain with the opening of a new commercial facility, which is why preferential access will be granted to those brands who demonstrate a commitment to supporting the growth of new material innovations over animal-based materials.
In September, Ganni released a fabric combining 65 percent Global Organic Textile Standard-certified organic cotton with 35 percent agriculture waste from banana farms in India. The Danish brand recently became a certified B Corp, meaning it’s now legally required to consider its impact on the planet. On top of removing virgin animal leather from its product line, the Levi’s collaborator also plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent. Ganni currently has 100 percent traceability on tiers 1-4 of its supply chain and has published all tier 1 and 2 suppliers with the Open Apparel Registry to drive transparency. For the brand’s newest collection, 92 percent of the production volume comes from responsible styles, meaning at least 50 percent of the composition is certified recycled, lower-impact or organic.
“Leather products account for just 9 percent of our sales and is the material which accounts for most of our emissions according to Ganni’s carbon auditor, Plan.A. Although highly profitable, phasing out virgin animal leather by 2023 is a no-brainer if we want to reach our 50 percent absolute carbon reduction target by 2027,” said Ganni founder Nicolaj Reffstrup. “It’s our job to source and invest in low-carbon solutions, like Mylo, that aren’t just at par with traditional product offerings but exceed them. But for that to happen brands need to place bets and take risks.”
In 2021, Ganni announced that it would introduce Mylo into its product line as part of its “Fabrics of the Future,” an in-house platform that sees the brand researching and providing investments for fabric innovations. This year, the brand launched its first limited collection of bags and small leather goods made from Mylo, giving consumers a choice for an animal-free alternative to traditional leather where neither quality nor aesthetics are compromised. This partnership with Bolt Threads is ongoing and Ganni plans to make Mylo products commercially available in 2023.
“There are no perfect solutions out there yet, but we need to keep investing in innovation in order to create real change over time,” Reffstrup said. “This is why I hope as many brands as possible commit to Bolt Threads’ Greener Pastures Pledge.”
The Greener Pastures Pledge is designed to galvanize brands to help the fashion industry move forward more sustainably. While no perfect solution exists today, a collective of brands publicly committing to using alternative materials and challenging the status quo is indicative of progress being made in the industry. Investments in innovation now are necessary for creating real change for our future.
“We know how challenging it is for brands to alter their supply chains, and the brands that dare to do so in an effort to minimize their environmental impact deserve to be rewarded for their trailblazing efforts,” said Dan Widmaier, CEO and founder of Bolt Threads. “The Greener Pastures Pledge is an incentive for those brands who are daring enough to make a real change by committing to high-quality, animal free alternatives—not only for their customers but also for our planet.”
This partnership is further evidence of the industry’s embrace of leather alternatives, feeding a growing appetite for sustainable, animal-friendly and biomaterial options.
Allbirds has invested $2 million to add Natural Fiber Welding’s (NFW) Mirum technology to its growing list of eco-materials. Gucci released Demetra, a leather alternative containing upward of 77 percent plant-based materials. Ralph Lauren helped fund NFW’s Clarus material, which can be made from any natural fiber using green chemistry and closed-looped processes. Ganni itself has experimented with additional leather alternatives such as one made from grape industry byproducts.
The global wholesale market size for next-generation fashion materials is projected to top $2.2 billion by 2026, Material Innovation Initiative said in its second State of the Industry Report, representing a 3 percent share of an addressable market of over $70 billion. It reported that 38 out of 40 leading fashion brands are actively searching for next-gen materials.
“‘Futuristic’ circular solutions—the kind built on recycled materials or future recyclability—are getting significant buzz, but they truly are of the future,” Maxine Bédat, founder of New Standard Institute and author of “Unraveled: The Life and Death of a Garment,” said in the report.