Vegans don’t wear fur, wool or leather, which somewhat limits their fashion choices, however, unless someone lives in a cold region of the nation, fur and wool are not really necessary. Leather is fun though, and until now, there were no synthetic substitutes that didn’t look like cheap plastic. Phil Ross, founder of Mycoworks, is redefining fashion for vegans with his new leather substitute made from mushroom skin.
Durable, water-resistant, breathable and as strong as leather, Ross’ new material, mycelium, has the luxurious feel of leather, yet it contains no animal products. Textures grow into the mushroom skin to give it the appearance of cow or ostrich skins; even features such as zippers are grown right into mycelium, giving it a definite advantage over leather.
Mycelium will appeal to more people than just vegans; anyone who cares about the environment understands that raising livestock is a resource–intensive process, while mycelium incorporates agricultural byproducts, such as pistachio skins, that would otherwise go to waste.
Ross isn’t just making faux leather coats and wallets for vegans, he found that he can grow mycelia in a mold to fashion biodegrade bricks for buildings that insulates against sound and heat, are fire-resistant and are strong enough to stop a bullet. Along with Ross, co-founders Sophia Wang and Eddie Pavlu are interested in making furniture and building materials from reichi mushrooms; there is already a tea room in Germany made mushroom bricks.