Be fabulous with bags and shoes made from mushroom leather

Mycelium, the root system of mushrooms, is getting increasingly popular in the architectural and design world. While the material is great for, for instance, architectural projects and packaging material, you can also use mushrooms to make a leather-like material. Now, the companies Bolt Threads and Ecovative developed a mycelium fabric, which designer Stella McCartney used to design a bag. The footwear brand Nat-2 designed shoes made of fungi material, and you can even turn mycelium into space boots!

The material developed by Bolt Threads, which previously designed synthetic spider silk, and Ecovative, known for their mushroom packaging material, is called Mylo. The material can be grown in a small space, without the environmental impact of real leather. In addition, the material can be coloured with tea.

Designer Stella McCartney was the first to work with the material, designing a bag which will be shown in the Victoria and Albert Museum’s “Fashioned from Nature” exhibit, which opened on 21 April. The bag won’t be commercially available, but in June, Bolt Threads will debut their own bag, which will be priced along the lines of premium leather bags. Bolt Threads is now working on scaling up their production, so that the material in the future can be used for apparel and shoes.

Fungi line
In collaboration with Zvnder, footwear brand Nat-2 designed a shoe made from fungi leather, which is antiseptic and antibacterial. The material is made from the trama of the tinder sponge, also known as Fomes Fomentarius, which grows on dead or weak birches and beeches. The material is peeled off and further worked by hand.

In addition to fungi leather, the shoe consists of eco-cotton, microfibre suede made from recycled PET bottles, real cork insoles and real rubber outsoles. The shoes are made by a small family manufacturer in Italy.

Growing a MarsBoot
Not just here on earth mushrooms have potential, in space as well! The project CASKIA/Growing a MarsBoot by Liz Ciokajlo of OurOwnsKIN and Maurizio Montali of Officina Corpuscoli aims to rethink the challenges and restrictions of space travel. Instead of taking Mars boots from Earth, the project proposing minimising the quantity of needed matter by taking only mycelium spores in the craft. The astronaut’s sweat is filtered and combined with the mycelium, partly feeding the fungal culture so that it starts to grow. The material can be used on its own or as part of a cotton

For Muskin mushroom leather, click here. For other animal-free leather, click here.

Photos: Bolt Threads / Nat-2 / CASKIA


  1. Julianne Cole says:

    Where do I buy the boots?

  2. Sigrid says:

    Hi Julianne,

    For more information about the products, click on the link in the article.

    On behalf of Team MaterialDistrict,