November 30, 2021

Why Stella McCartney believes that mushrooms are the future

3 min read

British designer Stella McCartney was among the first luxury houses to offer products with a conscience as she avoided the use of leather, feathers, fur or skins since her debut in the early 2000s.

As part of her vision, she recently launched Frayme Mylo, what she considers the world’s first bag from an alternative to leather made from mycelium, the infinitely renewable underground root system of fungi, within a runway show. The bag was launched during the designer’s summer 2022 collection presentation held on October 4, 2021, during Paris Fashion Week.

Mylo is a new material by Bolt Threads. It is a verified vegan, sustainable, soft-touch, animal-free leather alternative made from mycelium. In March 2021, also together with Bolt Threads, the designer presented two garments made with this material–a black bustier top and utilitarian trousers–that were not for sale, but embodied the potential of a next-generation material that could be further developed and sold soon after.

Within the October fashion show, the new Frayme bag in Mylo was featured in black during the catwalk show and a capsule collection of this style will be soon available for purchase. The Frayme bag wants to become a new Stella icon–a bold vegan style re-energizing some classic brand codes inspired by its iconic Falabella tote, including an oversized recyclable aluminum chain strap that runs around the bag and a statement medallion made from zamac, a zinc-aluminum alloy.

McCartney commented: “For my summer 2022 collection, I was so inspired by fungi and their incredible potential for saving our planet–and the Frayme Mylo embodies that hope for the future. Our longtime partners at Bolt Threads and I have a shared passion for material innovation and launching a luxury handbag made from Mylo mycelium leather is a landmark moment not only for us, but the world. What you see on the runway today is the conscious fashion industry of tomorrow.”

Stella McCartney black bustier and trousers made with Mylo

Stella McCartney black bustier and trousers made with Mylo

The designer has been collaborating for a long time with Bolt Threads, a partner involved in developing alternative, kinder to nature materials. “We first partnered with Bolt Threads on vegan Microsilk in 2017 and have been part of the Mylo journey since its inception,” explained the designer. “The first product ever created with the mycelium-based material was a prototype of our iconic Falabella bag, which debuted as part of the V&A’s ‘Fashioned from Nature’ exhibition in 2018.”

The new mushroom-based leather is remarkably similar to animal products with fewer environmental impacts and is not petroleum-based unlike most current synthetic options that often end up crowding landfills and oceans.

Mylo is bio-based certified, which means it is made predominantly from renewable ingredients found in nature today. Scientists at Bolt Threads have spawned a new category of material science by reproducing what happens under the forest floor, where mycelium grows best, in a lab with mulch, air, water and using 100% renewable energy.

This uncommon “production” process is designed to have a minimal environmental impact and takes days, and not years like raising cattle, while it helps to save on water, greenhouse gas emissions and protecting vital ecosystems like, for instance, forests and perennial glaciers.

The Frayme Mylo continues Stella McCartney’s cruelty-free legacy and leadership. The brand introduced its first vegan luxury “it” bag with the iconic Falabella tote in 2009 and has sold over 1 million since then, preventing the estimated deaths of approximately 400,000 cows.

According to the designer, producing a kilogram of leather requires 17,000 liters of water with animal agriculture accounting for approximately 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions and driving the destruction of vital ecosystems. Along with it, 70-80% of the Amazon’s deforested area is now used for cattle pastures.

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