As fashion continues its vegan journey, mushroom-based leather shoes are next on the menu

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The shoes of the future? (Photo by Edward Berthelot / Getty Images)

  • An Indonesian start-up, Mycotech, makes a leather-like material from mushrooms and uses it to make shoes.
  • The faux leather upper of these shoes is not sourced from animal skins, but rather from mycelium, a component of fungi.
  • Such plant-based materials could help fashion go greener.

Mycelium has properties similar to real leather, but toxic chemicals are not required to produce it. Small businesses around the world have started using this vegan leather because the material is breathable, flexible, sturdy and lasts for a few years.

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Mycotech co-founder Adi Reza Nugroho says; “The process uses less water, we don’t have to kill animals and it emits less carbon.

To create the shoes, fungal spores are mixed with sawdust to generate the leather-like fabric. After just a few days, the tightly woven mycelium membrane forms on the outside of the blocks. It can then be harvested and returned. This only requires a fraction of the water required for traditional leather production (less than a tenth).

READ MORE: From the field to the washing machine, this is how the fast fashion cycle pollutes the environment

The innovation caught the attention of shoe retailer Yukka Harlanda, who says he realized he needed a “sustainable solution” for the production of his leather shoes.

However, the costs of fungal leather shoes are higher than traditional leather shoes, but Adi Reza is optimistic as his order books are full until 2027.

It remains to be seen whether mushroom shoes can compete with real leather in terms of longevity.

Compiled by Afika Jadezweni

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