“We’d already done a bag, so I wanted to do the ready-to-wear to give a bit more insight into how much you can do with this material, and how it can be swept across the industry to actually replace leather,” McCartney explained. “That’s obviously the ultimate goal.” Until recently, it wasn’t possible to create pieces of Mylo that were large enough to cut into pants, and the early iterations were “quite stiff,” as she put it. Now, it’s available in a range of weights and textures, from pebbled to ultra-soft and pliable.
Like animal leather, Mylo is vegetable-tanned for a similar look and feel, but unlike polyester-based faux leather, it’s entirely natural and biodegradable. Mylo’s team was tight-lipped about the specific “finishing chemistries” they use, likely due to the growing competition in the mycelium space; last week, Hermès introduced a bag made from Reishi Fine Mycelium, a product by Mycoworks.
“The main thing is there’s really no compromise,” McCartney says. “I always say that I don’t want anyone to know our products aren’t made of leather, and it’s so important to me that they stand shoulder to shoulder with the real thing. And it’s just so much better for the planet—whether you’re doing it for ethical reasons or not, you can’t argue how this is better [than animal leather].”
Because Mylo can grow on a sheet of sawdust in about two weeks, its carbon footprint is considered exceptionally small, particularly compared to resource-intensive cows, which take years to raise. But Mylo’s team said it’s too soon to report numbers around their footprint: “Our preliminary impact assessment indicates the incredible environmental benefits of mycelium-based leather,” says Dan Widmaier, Mylo’s founder and CEO. “As disposable incomes rise around the globe, so will the demand for meat and leather goods. This demand can’t be met using the land and water it takes to raise cattle. We need smarter, more sustainable solutions.”