Is there a future for leather in fashion?

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Stella McCartney, Balenciaga and Hermès launch handbags, shoes and coats in mycelium leather; it is an alternative to animal skins and is created from fungus roots. This new fabric is made by companies like Bolt Threads and MycroWorks.

Will mycelium be part of the mainstream?

Certainly, consumers today demand alternative materials and fabrics to traditional leather. Nature and eco-friendly products are easily accepted by the sophisticated consumer who is looking for products that are not of animal origin.

The Business of Fashion says “Innovation takes time,” but the fashion world won’t wait. Big houses are looking for new fabric alternatives that will attract customers. Most items will likely be in limited quantities initially as companies experiment and use products from small start-ups to test opportunities. But the movement is clearly underway. (Remember, not too long ago many consumers stopped buying and wearing fur.)

Many companies, including LVMH and Kering, see the value in testing the mycelium to see if it is accepted by consumers. Unlike animal skin leathers, mushroom leather is made from mycelium which is the web structure that forms the roots of mushrooms underground. According to some information, this product is still very expensive and in limited supply.

The first test will be the mushroom handbags that Stella McCartney, Balenciaga and Hermès are introducing into their collections.

In an internet post claiming that “wool is so yesterday”, and claiming that natural and vegan fabrics are taking over, Peta lists the fabrics currently in use. They are:

1. Organic cotton – grown without harmful chemicals

2. Linen – can absorb up to 20% of its weight in moisture

3. Algae – introduced into the cellulose fiber

4. Wood – Lyocell is made from wood pulp as a substitute for silk

5. Beech fiber – a variety of rayon made from beech fibers

6. Hemp – grows without pesticides or chemicals and ideal for agriculture

7. Soybeans – Soybean fabrics, also called vegetable cashmere, offer a direct alternative to fine wool

8. Coco fiber – a company called Nanollose will soon be making warm and soft clothes with this fiber

9. rPet – meaning recycled polyethylene terephthalate or recycled polyester, popular for its recycled characteristics

More and more clothing brands have clothes made from natural materials and avoid using harmful chemicals in their processing so that they ultimately have a less harmful effect on the ecosystem. In many cases, these alternatives would improve soil quality and often use less water. Some fibers like organic cotton are even easier to clean.

POST SCRIPTUM : Many young people care about nature and the environment and will buy animal-friendly clothing. Some won’t eat meat – or wear animal clothing – and will even reject any product that remotely suggests abuse of any kind. Nevertheless, I don’t think leather will go out of style quickly, but I do think there will be more and more concern about product supply.

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