Ahead of Her SS22 Show, Stella McCartney Speaks to Suzy Menkes About the Power of Mushrooms
For our AW21 issue, the eminent fashion journalist Suzy Menkes spoke to Stella McCartney for a wider piece on how fungi are the future of fashion. Stella had a lot to say on the subject – more than Suzy could fit into the piece. As she unveils a mushroom themed SS22 collection in Paris, here is her full statement, given to Suzy on the magic of mushrooms.
“Many people associate leather with luxury but since the very beginning, I always wanted to approach things in a different way because killing animals for the sake of fashion is quite simply not acceptable. Not only are 100 million animals bred and killed to supply the fashion industry each year, animal agriculture accounts for approximately 18% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Leather and animal agriculture are driving the destruction of our rainforests and it’s now a critical threat that needs urgent attention.
“To me, I have always approached this subject as a challenge. It began 20 years ago with the desire to create the best possible faux leather, back when people told me I wouldn’t have a successful luxury business if I didn’t use real leather, and after years of research and development, I believe we have achieved the best faux leather on the market. There is so much opportunity for innovation in this area so my second challenge was to look at ways to innovate with sustainable leather alternatives.
“I remember first going to the Bolt Threads headquarters in San Francisco back in 2016. Back then it was really uncharted waters to look at technology for the fashion industry in this way, especially when it came to alternative, more sustainable materials that could replace the traditional materials the industry has been using for hundreds of years. I remember touching this spider silk they presented to me during that first meeting, and I just couldn’t believe how soft and luxurious it was. And so that’s where we began. We started working very closely with the team at Bolt Threads, it was a discovery really, with both sides discovering what each side needed because their team are essentially scientists, they aren’t in the fashion industry… so we developed together.
“Being the first brand to try and develop this technology into a viable alternative to leather that could actually replace a huge part of the industry has been incredibly motivating, not to mention the colossal impact it can have on the planet.
“We launched the world’s first product made with Bolt Threads’ Mylo™️ mushroom leather – a prototype of our iconic Falabella handbag, which was then exhibited in the Victoria & Albert Museum’s ‘Fashioned by Nature’ exhibition in 2018. And so it really started there and it’s just snowballed since.
“The recent launch of the world’s first garments made with Mylo™️ is a real milestone for us. The Mylo™️ bralette and trousers are certified bio-based, meaning they are crafted from predominantly renewable materials (mycelium) and aren’t made of plastic like most synthetic leathers which is where the issues with faux leather lie.
“We’ve supported this incredible innovation by Bolt Threads since its inception because I believe our customers should never have to compromise desirability for sustainability, and Mylo™️ is really allowing us to make that a reality. It’s also something the younger generation are demanding so this is only going to intensify.
“In terms of the longevity of leather alternative innovations such as mushroom leather, I truly believe this is only the beginning and in a few years’ time this will be the norm. I find it so encouraging to see that other brands are also looking seriously at these materials and I cannot wait to see more brands to come to this side.”
As told to Suzy Menkes inside 10 Magazine Issue 67. Read the full piece here. Imagery taken from Stella McCartney’s SS22 collection.