Is Luxury Leather’s Future Rooted in Mushrooms?

There’s a lot of noise about replacing leather within the fashion industry. Kering is seeking a lab-grown alternative, Allbirds has an eye on plants and Hermès gave mushroom leather a spin.

Nick Fouquet must’ve figured Hermès was on to something, in fact, because he’s following suit with some shroomy headwear.

LA-based Fouquetis a luxury hatmaker to the stars, whose bespoke clients include everyone from LeBron James to Nic Cage. Rule of thumb: if they’re famous and they fancy an edgy cap, they’ve probably called up Fouquet at some point.

Fouquet’s latest work isn’t just for the rich ‘n stylish, though: it’s for the Earth.

Available on the Nick Fouquet website, this trio of limited edition lids is informed by Fouquet’s partnership with MycoWorks, the same company that Hermès sought out to crate its mushroom leather handbag.

Alongside two typically expensive hats trimmed with MycoWorks’ Fine Mycelium — a proprietary leather alternative that’s individually grown to a designer’s desired texture, strength, and intention — Fouquethas also concocted the first-ever piece of Fine Mycelium headwear: an all-purpose mycelium bucket hat.

What may have been a wild idea decades ago is de rigueur today.

Some ancient civilizations made hats out of mushrooms, admittedly, but the recent craze for leather alternatives has created booming demand for leather alternatives, and some labels, like fellow hatmaker Isaac Larose’s EDEN Power Corp, have dabbled in shroomy science already.

But Fouquet’s MycoWorks hat collection is less demonstrative of mushroom mycelium’s usefulness as a leather alternative — textile developers are already hip to this — and more of a promo for MycoWorks’ “Reishi” tech.

MycoWorks touts Reishi, the finished product that comes from its Fine Mycelium program, as an “all-natural, plastic-free, and animal-free” leather alternative with a lower environmental footprint than conventional leather, with all the sturdiness of the stuff that comes from cows.

“I’m always on the lookout for renewable fabrics to work with,” Fouquet said in a statement. “To me, it’s important to create and see the results, not premeditate the process. The moment I saw [MycoWorks Reishi], I had to get my hands on it.”

Hermès Victoria bag made from MycoWorks’ Sylvania leather alternative

Of course, nothing is perfect.

MycoWorks has ample evidence that its alternative leathers are tough but I presume that they’re both more expensive and time-consuming to produce and are therefore more difficult to scale to larger quantities than typical leather.

Plus, just by virtue of the impact from shipping and manufacturing, nothing in the fashion biz is ever entirely “sustainable.”

But, like I so often say when new products are introduced into the industry, it’s at least heartening to see a step towards some degree of progress. Perhaps one day, all leather will be replaced with mycelium of some form but, for now, you can at least wear some shrooms on your head.

Source: Highsnobiety

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