by Christopher Blomquist

Fashion giants PVH Corp. and Bestseller have joined a new international sustainable fashion cooperative as founding members together with Ecovative, a New York-based mycelium technology company.

The two companies will leverage Ecovative’s Mycelium Foundry to bring petroleum- plastic- and animal-free mycelium materials (also informally known as “mushroom leathers”) to the fashion world. They will have priority access to Ecovative’s mycelium innovations through its Forager Hides (pictured) platform and will work directly with the Ecovative team to co-develop custom mycelium materials for a range of end products and consumer applications. The global innovation platform Fashion For Good helped bring the parties together to advance petroleum-free vegan leather. 

“At PVH we are excited to explore innovations that reduce the environmental impact of our products,” said Rebecca England, VP Innovation, PVH Europe. “Mycelium provides us with an opportunity to respond to growing consumer interest in lower impact products while supporting quality and design that meet the needs and expectations of our consumers–in this case, made with 100% bio-based resources. We look forward to testing and learning alongside our partners to create scalable, sustainable solutions.”

“Mycelium shows great potential in the fashion innovation sphere – it even extends far beyond our own industry. We are keen on diving into the product development phase and really understanding the aesthetics and actual performance of Ecovative’s innovative materials in the lab,” said Anders Schorling Overgård, Bestseller’s Sustainable Materials Engineer. “This pilot enables us to gain more insight into mycelium as a leather alternative, which ultimately is both biodegradable and fully bio-based.”

Ecovative has more than a decade of experience producing mycelium materials for partners throughout North America, Europe and Asia. The company launched Forager Hides, its alternative leather material, in March 2021. Forager Hides are based on Ecovative’s second-generation mycelium material, building on more than five years of research and development in Ecovative’s Mycelium Foundry. The 100 percent bio-based mycelium material is grown in sheets and can be grown to partners’ specific needs in terms of tensile strength, density and fiber orientation.

The entire growth process takes nine days and yields a ready-to-finish material free of plastic and petroleum. Due to the compact and vertical design, the first farm for this material is designed to produce 3 million square feet of leather-like material annually on only one acre of land.

The material can be used for everything from supple leather accessories to heavy-duty belts and shoes.