Lifelong vegetarian and fashion designer Stella McCartney, daughter of the famous Beatle Paul McCartney and his first wife Linda, has always looked to use ethical products in her clothing designs. She avoids using fur or leather, and innovatively experiments with new fabrics to reduce the impact of her clothing on the planet. This week her latest fashion accessory, the Stella McCartney Frayme, the world’s first bag made from a vegan mushroom leather substitute called Mylo, debuted on the fashion runway.
Mylo is made from mycelium, the network of fungal threads which grow underground to help plants decompose and support the growth of mushrooms. It is considered essential to the ecosystem, but it is also infinitely renewable. It was developed by material development company Bolt Threads, by reproducing mycelium in a lab using mulch, water, air and 100% renewable energy. The process takes days, rather than the years it takes to produce animal leather. The resulting material is soft, supple, and has the appearance of animal-derived leather.
“Our long-time 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,” said Stella.
This innovation follows her launch of Reclypse sneakers in August, made from ECONYL regenerated nylon, which is sourced from pre- and post-consumer waste like fishing nets and carpet. In April, she launched a capsule collection of t-shirts and sweatshirts made from organic cotton, in coalition with Greenpeace’s campaign to stop deforestation in the Amazon. A famous fashion designer like Stella McCartney has a ripple effect on the whole fashion industry. We look forward to seeing what she comes up with next.
Good news for vegetarians who don’t want to wear leather! Dole Sunshine Company (the world’s largest producer of fruit and vegetables) just announced a partnership with Ananas Anam, the British owners of the vegan pineapple leather brand Piñatex.
Ananas Anam will use leaf fibers collected and extracted from one of Dole’s farms in the Philippines—home to some of the largest plantations in the world—in its Piñatex products. The partnership marks a significant step towards Dole’s goal of zero produce loss by 2025.
Typically, the industry burns pineapple leaves or sends them to landfills, contributing to the production of carbon dioxide, methane, and other harmful emissions. By using pineapple leaves as a base for the production of its patented fabric, Piñatex simultaneously removes them from the waste stream and provides a sustainable alternative to high-polluting and destructive traditional leather.
The sheer scale of Piñatex and Dole’s new partnership also presents a unique opportunity for the companies to support developing farming communities, and to simultaneously increase output to match the growing global enthusiasm for vegan leather. This adds to the other forms of plant-based vegan leather that are being made from cactus, mushrooms and fique. What will they use next, we wonder?
It’s the latest thing. They can now make vegan leather from plants.
First of all what is vegan leather? Vegan leather is an ethical and cruelty-free fabric that mimics the look and feel of genuine leather. Vegan leather is also referred to as faux leather, polyester leather, or pleather. While genuine leather is made from animal hides, vegan leather is usually made from two synthetic plastic-based materials: polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and polyurethane. While this avoids the cruelty of using animal hides, the plastic-based materials are not biodegradable, so they may contribute to landfills and plastic pollution.
But now there are companies making vegan leather from plants. One company uses cactus. This cruelty-free material allows the brand to cut down on water-use. Another company uses the fique plant, grown in Colombia. The plant has long been used to make fibers and other materials and now can be used for vegan leather.