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Editor's pick product sustainability

Bolt Threads and Stella McCartney introduce mushroom leather handbag

Mylo leather by Bolt Threads
Mylo leather by Bolt Threads

Material startup Bolt Threads has introduced Mylo, a new leather material made from mycelium, the roots of a mushroom. For this textile innovation the company is continuing its work with designer Stella McCartney, who is launching a new style of the iconic Falabella handbag made from the innovation.

Bolt Threads has developed the patented leather by creating optimal growing conditions for mycelium cells to self-assemble into an animal leather-like material, meaning it can be produced in days rather than years.

The textile was developed in collaboration with Ecovative, a New York-based startup that had initially created the mushroom technology for packaging. It is not only sustainable from a raw material point of view, but can also be dyed with tea, which has long been a natural dyeing agent.

It’s the right time to show the world that we are more than just spider silk, Dan Widmaier, Bolt Threads’ co-founder and CEO, told us. Widmaier, who has a PhD in chemistry and chemical biology, is constantly developing things with his team in the company’s lab at a small scale, and leather and silk are just the beginning.

He refers to Bolt Threads as becoming a “platform” that can launch an infinite number of new materials inspired by the endless opportunities in nature.”There’s a huge ability to have an impact here,” he says, with relation to the change such new materials can make on sustainability and the environment. His tagline is “better materials for a better world”, which he refers to as critical for the globe’s growing population and increasing middle class.

The Stella McCartney Falabella bag made from Mylo leather by Bolt Threads
The Stella McCartney Falabella bag made from Mylo leather by Bolt Threads

The Stella McCartney handbag made from Mylo will be on display in London’s Victoria & Albert Museum’s “Fashioned from Nature” exhibit from April 21.  McCartney has no plans of putting the handbag on sale as yet, though her excitement towards investigating sustainable technologies is strong: “Once you take that technology and innovation and you marry it with luxury fashion and design and creativity, there’s no end to what magical madness you can create,” she told Forbes.

Bolt Threads’ own version of a Mylo leather handbag will be available for preorder in June.

This is Bolt Threads’ second material launch, having introduced Microsilk, a manmade spider silk produced in a lab in 2017. To showcase the material’s potential, the composition of which is meant to be stronger than steel but softer than a cloud, the startup launched a necktie and a hat. It followed that by introducing its partnership with McCartney via a dress made from the material that showcased the same level of fluidity and drapery as original silk. This was part of an exhibition at the MoMa in New York in October last year.

Want to know more? At this year’s SXSW, our chief intelligence officer Rachel Arthur spoke to CEO Widmaier on how his company’s innovations are driving the future of sustainable fashion for our TheCurrent Innovators podcast. 

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Editor's pick product Startups sustainability technology

MOMA exhibition highlights biofabrications and new technologies as the future of fashion

The Stella McCartney x Bolt Threads dress on show at the MOMA
The Stella McCartney x Bolt Threads dress on show at the MOMA

The Museum of Modern Art’s first exhibition dedicated to fashion design since 1944 presents garments and accessories that have had a profound impact on global culture over the last century.

In “Items: Is Fashion Modern?”, a total of 111 pieces span everything from the Little Black Dress and Levi’s 501 jeans, to the hoodie, the bikini, the stiletto and the Sari. About 30 of the items are also complemented by a new prototype, however – a commissioned or loaned piece inspired by advancements that signify where the industry is moving next.

These have been created by designers, artists, scientists, engineers, and manufacturers – those able to respond to the idea of these “indispensable items” with pioneering materials, approaches, and design revisions. Included is a t-shirt featuring the first lab-grown leather from bioengineering firm Modern Meadow; a dress woven from artificial spider silk by Bolt Threads marking a new partnership with designer Stella McCartney; and a new take on a customisable Breton shirt by 3D knitting company Unmade.

There’s also a fibre-optic Richard Nicoll dress on loan, created by wearable technology company XO, in partnership with Disney, as well as newly conceived versions of the pencil skirt, the biker jacket, the jumpsuit and more. Meanwhile, a wider zone in the exhibition devoted to new technologies and visions of the future, also features Issey Miyake’s A-POC and Pierre Cardin’s Cosmos Collection along with Gore-Tex, the leotard, and the Moon Boot.

Paola Antonelli, the MOMA’s Senior Curator for the Department of Architecture and Design, and its Director of Research and Development, shared her insights on the forward looking aspect of the exhibition and what it means for the future of fashion. Head over to Forbes to read the full interview.