In the last few years, the Fashion industry is focusing on making biodegradable and renewable products. In the previous year, Salvatore Ferragamo used a citrus byproduct material that feels like silk to make shirts, dresses, and pants out of it. Many other stylists, like AnanasAnam and Aniela Hoitink, made fabrics out of the renewable products.
Designing biodegradable shoes
Nowadays, Fungi Fashion seems to be in trend as one of Microsoft’s artists created her wedding dress from tree mulch and Mycelium to create biodegradable light fixtures.
Focusing on environmental sustainability, Jillian Silverman, after graduating from a fashion university, created a biodegradable shoe. It is a shoe of mushrooms, agricultural waste, and fabric scraps. She says that the shoes are entirely made out of natural things and will help reduce textile waste. Mushroom Mycelium was previously recycled to create compostable packaging. She got the idea that it could also be used in the fashion industry and replace artificial material.
Components of the Shoe
The challenge was to create a perfect growth mixture in which Mycelium would thrive. Silverman ran tests on many different fabrics and selected material composed of recycled cotton and jute. This material would have otherwise going to get dumped into a landfill. But here she created a sturdy material out of it, as it bonded well with the fibers. The other main components are psyllium husk, corn-starch, and chicken feathers. Huantian Cao, a professor of fashion, says that all these materials are soft but durable, so they make comfortable shoes for you.
The shoe is of mushroom mycelium and other biodegradable and compostable materials, but what if it gets wet? According to John Taylor, a professor of plant and microbial biology, these shoes are not ready for wear unless the shoe sole gets treated to prevent water intrusion. She believed that if the Mycelium would get processed, then it can block the absorption of water. The sole of the shoe would have improved function, but the compostability would decrease.
On the contrary, Silverman says that compostable products cannot get composed without suitable conditions. Thus, the shoe would not biodegrade while they are in use. Also, Mycelium is naturally water-resistant, so the shoe will be able to stand some moisture.
A California-based startup named Bolt Threads is accepting pre-orders for its mushroom “leather” bag in June. This company has its name for creating Microsilk fabric by following spider silk gene technology. Co-founder of Bolt Threads Dan Widmaier says, there is not enough natural animal leather available in the market. Thus, it is best to use Mycelium to create leather that would save the lives of animals and would be a sustainable option to choose.
Stella McCartney, a designer, already used Bolt Thread’s mycelium leather to create handbags decorated with metal chains.
Both Widmaier and Silverman agree that mushrooms have a place in fashion. Both of them have a vision for sustainable fashion with innovation, style, and environmentally friendly nature. They expect a future where fungi fabric would be as common as silk or cotton.
Every year, a person throws 70lbs of wearable waste, including clothing, and that fills 5% of the landfills. For lowering the waste, all the sectors of society must contribute and work more sustainably.