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Bolt Threads Just Made Faux Leather From Mushroom Roots

Bolt Threads, the maker of Microsilk, has introduced its second material–Mylo–the world’s first commercially available imitation leather grown from mycelium, the root structure of a mushroom.

To do it, Bolt Threads partnered with biomaterials company Ecovative to license the initial mycelium technology and then perfect the process for commercial viability.

Mylo looks and feels like hand-crafted leather and because Bolt Threads can control the environment and process through which Mylo is grown, it is able to manipulate the leather’s properties, including thickness and shape, to craft into individual products.

The material can be produced in days, and has the added benefit of avoiding the kind of waste left behind from leather made using animal hides. The mycelium cells are grown in beds of corn stalks with additional nutrients, and the network of cells are then compressed to make a 2-D material that can be tanned and dyed to make Mylo.

According to Bolt, Mylo has a soft, supple feel, and is strong and abrasion resistant. Compared to synthetic leathers made from polyurethane, often called pleather, Mylo feels natural and has better moisture management properties, Bolt noted.

Mylo will be available to consumers in two ways. First, Stella McCartney, a long-term partner of Bolt Threads, will introduce the Mylo Falabella Prototype 1 at the Victoria and Albert Museum’s “Fashioned from Nature” exhibit that opens to the public in London on Saturday. Then Bolt Threads will release its own Mylo bag for pre-order this June.

Last year, Bolt Threads, based in Emeryville, Cal., introduced Microsilk, a biofabricated spider silk created by using yeast to produce protein materials in a process that reduces pollution, creates long-term sustainability and is vegan-friendly.

The materials innovation company engineers fibers from scratch based on proteins found in nature and then develops cleaner, closed-loop processes for manufacturing using green chemistry practices. The company struck a sustainable materials development partnership with Patagonia in 2016 and acquired New York City-based lifestyle and apparel brand Best Made Co. in 2017.

The relatively new but growing bio-economy encompasses the production of renewable biological resources and turning these resources and waste streams into value-added products, such as food, feed, bio-based products and bioenergy.