MycoWorks opens facility to scale innovative leather alternatives

September 2023: MycoWorks will commission the world's first facility for commercial scaling of mushroom leather

MycoWorks
Source & Copyright by MycoWorks

Author: House of Eden

  • Biotech company MycoWorks opens world's first production facility for commercial scaling of leather alternatives made from mycelium
  • The 136.000 square meter facility will open in September 2023 and will employ more than 350 people
  • Following the shutdown of Bolt Threads, MycoWorks offers a more positive perspective on the scalability of material innovation

Nachdem Bolt threads recently announced that it was pausing the production of its mushroom leather "Mylo" due to a lack of funds for scalability and this development sparked a critical debate about the potential for sustainable innovation in the fashion industry, there are now new positive implications. MycoWorks, the leading and competing biotech materials solutions company with Bolt Threads, announced it will open the world's first commercial-scale fine mycelium manufacturing facility on September 20, 2023 in South Carolina. The 136.000-square-foot factory is expected to create more than 350 jobs, enabling MycoWorks to supply millions of square feet of Reishi™ annually to its luxury partners.

"This is the moment the luxury industry has been waiting for: a plastic-free leather alternative that offers undeniable beauty and performance - and at scale," said Patrick Thomas, former CEO of Hermès and board member of MycoWorks, in the official press release. The industry expert, who has over 30 years of experience in the luxury market, believes the challenge of scalability was the final hurdle stopping companies from launching biomaterials items. "Now that the problem of supply is solved, brands will quickly enter the market to market items made from Reishi."

Game changer: Cultivated leather substitute made from mushrooms meets the performance standards of the luxury industry

In parallel, CEO Matt Scullin points out that the decades-long search for an alternative to luxury leather has faced two obstacles: "product quality and scalable manufacturing". MycoWorks removed the first barrier in 2016 when the biotech company introduced Reishi. To do this, it established its own production process that cultivates mycelium in a controlled environment and uses its natural growth.

mycoworks 2

Source & Copyright by MycoWorks

The result of this approach is a new category of high-quality biomaterial that offers the strength, durability and hand feel of the finest animal leathers while at the same time having a lower environmental impact. This means that Reishi meets the performance standards of the luxury industry. Test results and partnerships with major luxury brands in the fashion, interior and automotive industries, including Hermès, Ligne Roset and GM, confirm this.

MycoWorks overcomes the luxury leather scalability challenge

The second barrier, scalable manufacturing, would be addressed by MycoWorks by opening its state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in South Carolina, Scullin said. Unlike many of its competitors, MycoWorks operates vertically and owns its technology suite rather than licensing or outsourcing. As a result, the company develops and controls every step of the production process itself, which makes a scalable market entry more calculable.

In contrast, Bolt Threads cited economic uncertainties as well as the anchoring in traditional supply chains and the reproduction of questionable production models as reasons for the production stop. This would lead to innovative companies often not being able to push through forward-looking ideas due to resistance from established players. With its vertical way of working, MycoWorks avoids these obstacles and writes its own rules that make established structures appear obsolete thanks to five advantages:

    1. Resilient supplier relationships and transparency through supply chain simplification
    2. Better controllability of working conditions and environmental impact
    3. Forward-looking and competitive positioning in line with the upcoming legal framework
    4. Attractiveness for modern sustainability demands of all stakeholders
    5. Reputational risk mitigation

Does the production facility herald a new era of scalable material innovation?

The Bolt Threads situation is no exception. Rather, the production stop represents a well-known, recurring problem in the fashion industry: the scalability of innovative solutions. Such solutions that can create a positive impact and promote sustainable development - as far as their implementation can take place. MycoWorks' opening of the first facility dedicated to manufacturing a commercial-scale leather alternative is therefore an unprecedented advance. And an important argument for other companies to reconsider traditional dependencies.

The factory enables MycoWorks to answer the fashion industry's desire to create objects with natural alternatives to leather. However, it should be remembered that Reishi is luxury leather and MycoWorks clearly defines its target group from the premium segment upwards. At least currently. This leaves open whether the scalability of the alternative can also be extended beyond the luxury industry. Since this has often played a pioneering role in the past, especially in the area of ​​sustainability, this is to be hoped for in any case.

After opening in late September 2023, MycoWorks will host an official opening party in October. This will bring together brand partners, high-level guests and government officials to celebrate industry advancements. However, also to see the technology, to learn more about the diverse possible applications and to discuss its potential.


About MycoWorks

Philip Ross and Sophia Wang founded the biotech company MycoWorks in 2013 in San Francisco. Their goal: to provide the world with new materials grown from mushroom mycelium. Through patented technology and advanced production platform, their materials exhibit leather-like aesthetics, feel, strength and durability. The flagship material - Reishi - is a new material category for luxury brands.

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