What do linen, cotton, jersey… and now mushroom all have in common? They’re all materials used to make fabric for clothing. Mushrooms have an extensive list of its usage from medicinal, wellness, beauty, and now these fungi are entering the fashion and design industry.
Mycelium is the vegetative body for fungi that produce mushrooms, it’s essentially the root of the fungus. It has the growing “stem” cells of fungus and they grow by releasing enzymes from their tips to digest the surrounding and absorb nutrients, these cells will eventually grow and branch out to create an extensive filamentous mycelial network. They are growing and consuming for its survival but they also benefit the entire ecosystem.
MycoWorks is a growing company that is bringing mycelium into the fashion industry. They have an” advanced manufacturing platform that improves supply chains for fashion and luxury”. Their first product launch is the Fine Mycelium of Reishi (link). It’s an expensive, high-class, biomaterial, but it’s also sustainable and completely natural. It’s versatile, they can be tanned, dyed, embossed, stitched, making it extremely appealing as a fabric for the fashion industry.
A Danish product designer Jonas Edvark created MYX, another textile company constructed by harvesting Oyster Mushrooms for 3-4 weeks, taking the mycelium as a resource and domestic waste. This brand designs and interior architecture, furniture, and everyday home pieces. After harvesting the material can be shaped and dried – making it lightweight and flexible for Jonas to design. His entire brand and collection are based on sustainability and composites. All the fibers in MYX textiles are leftover clothing and rope production. Sometimes he creates a network of the fibers woven with the mushroom spores, which makes it durable, strong, and flexible.
Amanda Morglund is an Australian fashion designer and the focus of “Mycelium Made” a short film in Australia that describes the use of the material, the process, and the future. Mushroom technology has become so versatile and a viable sustainable alternative compared to the overwhelming waste production in the fashion industry. Her process is similar to the ones mentioned above, she takes a tiny piece of the mushroom’s root system and adds it to her textiles because mushrooms will grow on anything. The mycelium will then infiltrate and take over the fibers and once it’s dried out it’s similar to regular fabric. The entire harvesting takes four to six weeks and she also likes to use oyster mushrooms, which are edible mushrooms you would find in a typical grocery store.
Historically, we always did the same thing, every discovery of its benefits, we use it to revolutionize and advance humanity. The same thing is happening for Mycelium, with so many benefits in mushrooms in general, this benefit can be extracted from any mushroom. It provides small molecules but can assemble into small structures and turn into a fiber. Mycelium has the power as a technology to replace plastic – a significant environmental problem in today’s society. We are constantly looking for solutions to better our world and Mycelium may be the biotechnological answer we needed, with its sustainable and environmental usage as packaging material, clothing, and other constructions. The growing trend of the mushroom industry also means it’s likely that this will be a new normal.