Answering the call for a more sustainable fashion industry – responsible for 10 per cent of annual global carbon emissions, according to the United Nations Environment Programme – fungi-material start-up MycoWorks debuted Reishi, its first product brand, at the 2020 New York Fashion Week. Reishi products are made of mycelium, which is the vegetative part of a fungus.
It’s neither plastic, plant nor meat-based. According to Philip Ross, artist and co-founder of MycoWorks, “Mycelium has been present for millions of years.” Yet the possibilities of its use are just beginning to be discovered. Reishi has the tensile strength and durability of actual cowhide. As appearances go, it also measures up well in colour fastness, which is the ability of the
material to withstand the elements without changing.
While it’s associated with leather, Reishi is determined to have its own identity. Chief of product at MycoWorks, Mike Todd, claims they are “a powerful choice, not a substitute for leather”.