Leather Alternatives

Report: Could Mycelium Leather Transform the Leather Market?

IDTechEx analyses the potential of mycelium as an innovative leather alternative in a new report. According to the report, recent developments in the industry mark the beginning of major production growth, though companies in the industry also face some technological challenges that need to be overcome in order to achieve sustainable market growth.

Key players in the production of mycelium leather include

  • MycoWorks, California, producer of materials including Reishi
  • Bolt Threads, California, producer of materials including Mylo
  • Ecovative, New York, operates several platforms including a specialized soft goods division called Forager which creates materials from its AirMycelium™ technology
  • SQIM, Italy, operates MOGU, a dedicated interior design and architecture brand offering a range of wall, floor, and acoustic treatment products, and EPHEA, which targets the luxury fashion and automotive industries with animal-free alternatives marketed as unique materials.

Mycelium leather emerges as a contender in the quest for sustainable materials, offering a durable, eco-friendly solution devoid of plastics and animal products. Within the innovative landscape of plant-based and cell-cultivated leather alternatives, mycelium leather must distinguish itself through competitive pricing and superior qualities, as highlighted in recent analyses.

MycoWorks leather @ polrebaque


Say the authors of the report, the technique of vertical mycelium cultivation is highly resource-efficient, allowing for cultivation in significantly reduced spaces compared to traditional crops. Unlike the complex and energy-intensive vertical farming of plants, mycelium cultivation sidesteps these challenges, benefiting from minimal water use and efficient nutrient delivery. This not only lessens environmental impact but also paves the way for continuous, year-long production within a controlled environment. Moreover, collocating cultivation and processing facilities minimizes transportation costs and environmental footprint.

However, the intricacies of maintaining sterile culture media, precise environmental conditions, and selecting optimal fungal strains add layers of complexity to mycelium leather production. The industry’s commitment to identifying and cultivating the best mycelial strains is crucial for ensuring rapid growth without sacrificing material quality, state the authors.

MycoWorks Reishi
Reishi ©MycoWorks

Scaling vertical mycelium cultivation remains a significant hurdle, setting mycelium leather apart from other plant-based alternatives that leverage existing agricultural byproducts. Addressing the intertwined challenges of scale and cost is vital. Although scaling operations is expected to reduce costs, producers must rigorously enhance their production processes to offer a competitive alternative to traditional leather.

Despite these obstacles, the potential for mycelium leather to redefine the market is immense. With advancements in cultivation and scaling techniques, mycelium leather stands on the brink of offering a versatile, sustainable leather alternative that aligns with consumer expectations for environmentally conscious and cruelty-free products.

Further information: idtechex.com

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