Luxury brand Hermès will release a new version of its Victoria handbag made using Sylvania, a mushroom-based vegan leather developed by startup MycoWorks, by the end of the year. The exclusive collaboration, which has been in the works for three years, will result in the first commercially available product using Sylvania, or Fine Mycelium—a leather created from fast-growing mushroom root systems. 

“We could not imagine a better partner than Hermès to present our first object made of Fine Mycelium. Hermès and MycoWorks share common values of craftsmanship, quality, innovation, and patience,” MycoWorks CEO Matt Scullin said. “The power of storytelling is key in any new technology or art. Sylvania represents how nature and biotechnology can work in concert to create a material with the highest standards of quality.”

California-based MycoWorks will provide the mushroom leather for the Victoria bag which will go through a tanning and finishing process in France by Hermès tanners before being shaped by the fashion house’s craftspeople. “MycoWorks’ vision and values echo those of Hermès: a strong fascination with natural raw material and its transformation, a quest for excellence, with the aim of ensuring that objects are put to their best use and that their longevity is maximized,” Pierre-Alexis Dumas, Hermès’ Artistic Director, said. “With Sylvania, Hermès is at the heart of what it has always been: innovation in the making.”

The final version of the Victoria bag has yet to be announced but initial material compositions include a combination of Sylvania, canvas, and Evercalf calfskin (which is made from the hides of young cows). 

Fashion goes leather-free 

The MycoWorks and Hermès is the latest collaboration between major fashion brands and startups creating more sustainable and animal-friendly alternatives to traditional leather. Last year, biotechnology startup Bolt Threads announced a partnership with fashion industry giants Adidas, Stella McCartney, Lululemon, and Kering—a luxury fashion group that manages the development of brands such as Gucci, Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta, Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen, and more. This partnership will give the fashion brands exclusive access to Bolt Threads’ Mylo—which, like MycoWorks’ Sylvania, is made from mycelium that Bolt Threads crafts into vegan leather. The partnership will result in the launch of new mushroom leather-based products in 2021.

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