Since its founding in 2013, MycoWorks has focused on helping fashion curb its harmful habit of using animal- and plastic-based materials to manufacture leather. Instead, the materials innovator opts to source from an unlikely origin—fungi. Now, with a newly raised $45 million in hand, the sustainable materials manufacturer is getting closer to bringing its alternative leather material, Reishi, to market.
To create Reishi, a class of sustainable material designed to perform like cowhide leather, MycoWorks developed its own proprietary process, in which sheets of Reishi’s interwoven fungi-based mycelium cells are grown to size and can be finely tuned as they’re cultivated. This process, called “Fine Mycelium” helps brand clients conceive of new design possibilities from the material construction stage up.
By tracing moments in the creation of each sheet of Reishi, MycoWorks’ “Fine Mycelium” experts, alongside in-house specialists and brand partners, can further refine a sheet’s structure and appearance, shaping desired outcomes in less than six weeks, the company says.
The Reishi sheets are then finished by traditional European tanneries with green, chrome-free chemistry. The MycoWorks team believes this finishing process is an example of how it can bring technological innovation to the traditional craftsmanship that is often essential to luxury fashion houses.
As a result, the end product is supposed to be stronger than cowhide leather, and just as durable. Mycoworks says that Reishi’s Tensile strength, which measures the force needed to pull a material to its breaking point,