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Mushroom Root Faux Leather Makes its Way to Market

Mushrooms have made their way into tote bags, and the commercial availability of the imitation leather their roots produce could help fuel the market for vegan products.

Bolt Threads, maker of Microsilk, a vegan-friendly fiber that replicates spider-spun silk without using any spiders, introduced its Mylo material made from mycelium earlier this year, and now the first commercially available produce made from the non-animal leather is available for pre-order.

The Mylo Driver, a utilitarian unisex tote, designed in collaboration with Portland-based brand Chester Wallace, is constructed entirely from Bolt Threads’ Mylo material, with a canvas base. Every bag is hand-cut and sewn with functionality and longevity in mind–combining innovative and sustainable materials with high quality design.

Mycelium is the underground root structure of mushrooms, which grows as tiny threads that create vast networks under the forest floor. Under optimal growing conditions, Bolt Threads uses the mycelium cells, grows them in beds of corn stalks with additional nutrients, and once the cells form an interconnected 3-D network, the company compresses it all into a 2-D material, tan it and dye it to make a sustainable product it says feels a lot like animal leather.

What’s more, Mylo can be produced in days as opposed to years, and without turning to animal hides and the material waste that comes with that.

“We’re passionate about creating innovative materials that are better for our planet and since the creation of Mylo doesn’t involve raising livestock, it eliminates the associated tolls on our environment,” Jamie Bainbridge, vice president of product development at Bolt Threads, said. “Our technologies present an opportunity to revolutionize an old-world industry at a commercial level, combining innovative and sustainable materials with high-quality design, and the launch of this bag is just the first step in bringing Mylo to the mass market.”

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The Mylo Driver is now available for pre-order on Kickstarter, with delivery beginning in Spring 2019 through Fall 2019. Bolt Threads will produce a limited edition of 135 units.

A Tier 1 purchase has 100 available totes at $400 each. A Tier 2 purchase, with 25 available, costs $500 for a bag with personalized embossed initials. A Tier 3 buy has 10 available at $1,000 for a bag with personalized embossed initials, a Mylo pouch that fits in the tote and an in-person tour with the Bolt Threads team at the Bolt Threads facility.

Bolt Threads partnered with biomaterials company Ecovative to license the initial mycelium technology before perfecting the process for commercial viability. Since 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.