Leather Alternatives

MycoWorks Unveils World’s First Commercial Mycelium Facility for Luxury Animal-Free Leather

Biomaterials innovator MycoWorks announces it will open the world’s-first commercial-scale mycelium production plant to produce luxury animal-free leather on the 20th of September, 2023.

Located in South Carolina, the 136,000-square-foot facility, employing over 350 people, will use MycoWorks patented Fine Mycelium technology to produce “millions of square feet” of Reishi  — a luxury leather alternative with the strength, durability, and hand feel of the finest animal leather but with a lower environmental impact.

“Fine Mycelium platform is an unprecedented advancement in materials. Opening the doors on the first commercial-scale factory has MycoWorks poised to answer the luxury industry’s desire to craft objects with natural alternatives to leather,” says Kiersten Stead, MP at DCVC Bio and board member at MycoWorks. 

MycoWorks Raises $125 Million to Mass Produce Mushroom Leather
© MycoWorks

Scalable manufacturing

Since Reishi’s introduction, the company has partnered with major brands, including hatmaker Nick FouquetHermèsLigne Roset, and GM. But as with all novel products, the company faced the challenge of scaling commercially.

MycoWorks’ founders Philip Ross and Sophia Wang have managed to raise $125 million to open this promising plant, the exciting first steps of replacing animal hides using biotechnology. The company was established in San Francisco in 2013.

“There have been two barriers to the decades-long search for a luxury leather alternative: product quality and scalable manufacturing. In 2016 we eliminated the first by introducing Reishi to the world, and in September 2023 we are answering the question of scale with this state-of-the-art facility in South Carolina,” says Matt Scullin, CEO of MycoWorks.
 
A black mycelium leather bag
@ polrebaque

Beauty and performance

According to MycoWorks, Reishi meets the luxury standards for material performance without using plastics. Its Fine Mycelium tech, which engineers mycelium to grow to exact specifications for hand feel, texture, strength, and functionality, stands out in alternatives that depend on polyurethane (PU) or polyvinyl chloride (PVC) films, fillers, or backings to provide strength and durability.
 
MycoWorks has announced plans to host a ribbon-cutting ceremony in October, where attendees will have the opportunity to witness the factory’s cutting-edge technology and learn about Reishi’s diverse applications.
 

“This is the moment the luxury industry has been waiting for; a plastic-free leather alternative that offers undeniable beauty and performance — at scale,” comments Patrick Thomas, former CEO of Hermès and board member at MycoWorks. 

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