Most industries are facing rising pressure to lower their environmental impact and are responding. The explosion in demand for both non-animal and non-plastic materials in fashion is a great example: it’s hard to ignore the recent boom in “alternative leather” products made from mycelium, cactus, grape, and various other “bio-based” materials. When it comes to carbon footprint, many of these new materials claim an edge over animal leathers—and that sounds great in theory. The problem? Many still use too much plastic to biodegrade effectively. Ultimately, that means little to no overall advantage over either animal or plastic leathers.
Why do they use plastic? It provides strength and performance properties that “bio-based,” “plant-based” material wouldn’t otherwise have. Plastic added during a manufacturing process to fibers of mycelium, cactus, grape, is needed to make these other materials strong. Reishi™, by contrast, is grown in a proprietary process that makes the mycelium itself strong—and that’s why Reishi™ doesn’t rely on plastic for performance. Grown as a biomaterial, not manufactured: that’s what differentiates Reishi™ from other vegan leathers, which are assembled from a combination of ingredients that include mycelium (or other plant material) and plastic.
Today, virtually all “vegan leathers” in the market are made from polyurethane (PU) and/or polyvinyl chloride (PVC)—plastics that can’t be easily recycled and contribute to the 91% of plastic that is not recycled globally. Plastic textiles, including “vegan leathers,” make up 36% of all global plastic waste.
So what does it take for a leather alternative to have a significant impact? Reduced carbon footprint is the obvious first step, and it’s clear that reducing plastic content is a must, too. But there’s a third criteria that most are failing to see: if a leather alternative is truly going to have an impact, it has to feel as good as leather, and function as well—if not better.
Reishi™ meets these criteria; but Reishi™ is not just a leather alternative—it’s a new class of material. Reishi™ is mycelium that is grown—not manufactured—in a proprietary process that makes it strong. As a result, Reishi™ is a custom-grown material that feels supple and soft, because it doesn’t rely on plastic for its structure. Reishi™ has its unique hand-feel because what you touch is mycelium.
We hear from brand partners that they don’t want to replace animal leather. They want something new, something exciting that aligns with their evolving values and opens creative doors. Here’s what first movers using Reishi™ had to say:
“I truly believe Reishi™’s future is a new category of premium material. Reishi is not leather and was not created to replace it. Reishi is a whole new natural material that offers a new perspective to our industry.” — Thibault Shockert, CdV CEO
“Our clients want luxury made from materials that feel good and that they feel good about.” — Nick Fouquet, Nick Fouquet founder
“Luxury is not about pure quality which you can measure. It’s also about sensuality, aesthetics. For me, it’s the first time that a company is able to produce a natural product which is matching or even exceeding the quality and durability and aesthetics of traditional leather. It’s a super achievement.” — Patrick Thomas, luxury Industry Leader and MycoWorks Board of Directors member