OK, but how do these mushrooms become clothing? The mycelia are given various agricultural byproducts to eat, and then are placed in molds to control their growth. Once they have reached the desired form, they are baked in a kiln to kill the fungi and set it into workable fibre. According to manufacturers, this results in a super versatile material. It can be hard or soft, flexible or rigid, and dyed naturally, all depending on easy changes in food and growing conditions to build in features from the get-go. So far, mushroom fibre has been used predominantly as a for decor (mushroom lampshades, anyone?) or as a leather alternative because it easily mimics its colour and texture. But it looks like the possibilities are far greater.
The list of perks of mushroom fibre clothing is long. Current mycelium-based versions are allegedly 100% biodegradable, plastic-free, and antimicrobial, just in case wearing fungus was sketching you out a little bit. It’s also water-, fire-, and abrasion-resistant, and breathable because it’s all-natural. On the environmental front, using varied agricultural byproducts like discarded cornhusks or sawdust means it reduces agricultural waste instead of letting it be tossed out or burned. Mycoworks, one of the major producers, says their mushroom fibre is even carbon negative, and they have achieved a closed-loop production cycle. As a vegan leather alternative, it uses a fraction of the cost, resources, energy of cowhide, which is notorious for its resource consumption and polluting nature. Basically, mushroom fibre for clothing is packed with potential to change fashion.