MycoTEX: textile made from mushroom mycelium

Mycelium, the spores of mushrooms, is an incredible material. You can use it to make anything from chairs to lamp shades to packaging material. However, what all these materials have in common is that they are all solid materials. Dutch textile designer Aniela Hoitink decided to create a flexible version of the material: MycoTEX.

Hoitink’s inspiration comes from observing ‘soft bodies’ species, which are organisms that grow by replicating themselves in a certain modular pattern. During her research, Hoitink first created a flexible composite product by combining mycelium with textiles. The aim became, however, to develop non-woven textiles consisting only of pure mycelium.

Mycelium only needs little water to grow, and has the potential to be, for instance, antibacterial. The fabric is 100 per cent biodegradable and acts as nutritious soil for other plants.

MycoTEX eliminates the steps of spinning yarns, weaving cloth, and sewing garments, thus taking out the costs, time, and energy this takes. Instead, the fabric is stuck into a mould and shaped. Hoitink used the mycelium modules to create a dress, which can be adjusted to adapt to fashion and can be repaired when needed. Once the garment has served its use, it can be composted.

Creating textiles out of modules provide several benefits. The fabric can be repaired without it interfering with its look. Additionally, a garment can be built three dimensionally and shaped according to the wearer’s wishes while being made. The length of the garment can be changed, even made longer, or elements can be added. This allows for the growth of the right amount of material, eliminating waste.

The dress was a proof-of-concept, and at the Dutch Sustainable Fashion Week 2016, a wearable garment was presented.

Considering the waste the fashion industry causes and the trend of ‘fast fashion’, textiles that are biodegradable are a welcome addition to our wardrobe.

The textile and the dress were made in a collaboration between Hoitink’s company Neffa, Utrecht University, Officina Corpuscoli and Mediamatic.

Photos: Aniela Hoitink