Sunday, September 24, 2023

After 5 Years of Development, Stella McCartney’s Mushroom Leather Bag Hits the Market


Available now for pre-order, the highly anticipated Frayme Mylo bag will sell for £1,995 exclusively via Stella McCartney’s e-commerce site and stores globally.

After wowing the crowd last October at Paris Fashion Week, Stella McCartney’s long anticipated Frayme bag made from mushroom leather is now on its way to stores. The bag was more than five years in development between McCartney and Bolt Threads, the California mycelium tech company that developed the leather.

“Bringing the first-ever luxury bag made from Mylo to market is a massive milestone for conscientious consumers, the biomaterials industry, and the future of luxury fashion,” Bolt Threads founder and CEO Dan Widmaier told Vogue Business.

The first Frayme Mylo handbag—the black mushroom leather version of the brand’s Frayme bag—has seen more than 5,000 iterations, according to McCartney—a staunch proponent of sustainability. She said the mushrooms are grown in labs using no water and little electricity. But it has taken years for the designer and the mushroom producer to perfect the vegan leather texture.

“Now we’re at the point where I feel like I can roll it out,” she told Vogue last year. “Otherwise I wouldn’t have put it on the runway.”

Much room for mushrooms

McCartney pulled mushroom-themed designs through the runway collection last October, with nods to the 1970s—the heyday of psilocybin mushrooms and the birthplace of the sustainability ethos that runs through her designs. The soundtrack of the event was even fungi-based—the designer played recordings that captured the sounds of mushrooms during their growth.

Stella McCartney's Mushroom Leather Frayme Handbag
Stella McCartney’s Mushroom Leather Frayme Handbag | Courtesy

The collection featured hand-drawn toile de Jouy–like mushroom print as well as jumpsuits, dresses with drastic cut-outs resembling swimsuits, bright color schemes accented with bold cuts and fringe.

“It’s been such a period of transition, and I wanted to project what the future could be like for the house of Stella: a lightness of touch, a slightly more tender approach, still mixing these sporty pieces and the masculine,”McCartney said.

Mushroom leather

Mushroom leather is produced from the root structure of mushrooms—the mycelium—to grow and perform like conventional leather products. It has the potential to drastically displace animal-based leather and some alternatives like vinyl.

Hermès used it in a prototype last year for its popular Victoria travel bag. Former Hermès CEO Patrick Thomas joined the board of directors for San Francisco-based mushroom producer MycoWorks last year, which is working on the leather bag.

Adidas, a frequent partner to McCartney, has also begun working with the leather alternative.

Courtesy Mylo

New York-based Ecovative has been working with a number of brands to develop mycelium leather products through its Forager Hides project. Recent partners include Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, and the U.K.-based Pangaia.

Athletic wear brand Lululemon brought two mushroom leather bags to market earlier this year, also in a partnership with Bolt Threads.

“Sustainable innovation will continue to play a key role in the future of retail and product, and for us, leveraging a material like Mylo demonstrates our commitment to creating a healthier environment through lower-impact products, while also giving us the ability to reimagine iconic pieces in our line through a sustainability lens,” Sun Choe, Chief Product Officer at Lululemon, said last year.

McCartney’s first run of the new Frayme is limited to 100 of the new mushroom bags. They will be individually numbered and retail at £1,995, with more items expected to come to the label made from the vegan leather soon. “But it’s not killing any animals; it’s not cutting down any trees,” she says. “It’s the future of fashion if you can get it right, and I think we can,” she said. “It’s the beginning of something new.”


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