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Understanding the Power of Mycelium and the Mushroom Movement

An oft-overlooked natural asset, mushrooms are not just infiltrating the fashion industry, but also have the potential to unlock new ways of thinking and healing.
Mycelium panel at VOICES 2021.

One of the planet’s oldest lifeforms was the centrepiece of some of last year’s biggest stories in material innovation in fashion. In March 2021, BoF broke the news that Hèrmes was set to collaborate with California-based biotech startup MycoWorks to rework its ‘Victoria’ travel bag in a fungi-based material that imitates the properties of leather. In October, Stella McCartney unveiled the first handbag made with vegan mushroom leather.

But beyond fungi’s potential for shaping the future of materials, its ability to build things and create networks can provoke our imaginations and make us question the way we organise our lives, according to Merlin Sheldrake, biologist and author of “Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds and Shape Our Futures.”

“Thinking about fungi makes the world look different, and they’re powerful allies for us at this moment of crisis and transformation,” said Sheldrake during a discussion on mycelium — the branching network of tubular structures that make up a fungus — with MycoWorks chief executive Matthew Scullin, mushroom coffee and tea company Dirtea co-founders Andrew and Simon Salter and BoF’s Sarah Kent.

To read BoF’s latest Case Study, “Fashion’s Race for New Materials,” examining how brands are pursuing recycled textiles, regeneratively farmed cotton and mushroom-based leather, click here.

This podcast is made in partnership with Brandlive and Clearco.

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