Vegan leather is far from out with San-Francisco-based start-up MycoWorks raising a whopping $125 million in their Series C funding in early 2022.
Founded in 2013 by Philip Ross and Sophia Wang, MycoWorks is among the trailblazing companies working with fungus and other plant-based materials to make fabrics that are on par with animal leathers.
The funding was led by Prime Movers Lab with participation from new and existing investors like SK Networks, Mirabaud Lifestyle Impact & Innovation Fund, DCVC Bio, and Novo Holdings.
Now, the biomaterials start-up is set to launch its first full-scale mushroom leather production plant in South Carolina, making it the new hub for sustainable vegan leather including MycoWorks’ flagship product called Reishi™.
Vegan Mushroom Leather Takes Center Stage
The magic is possible thanks to MycoWorks’ patented Fine Mycelium™ technology which produces a premium, durable, and versatile material using fast-growing root systems of mushrooms. Unlike animal-derived leather, the material is made-to-order with exact specifications from fashion brands.
“What MycoWorks has achieved with its Fine Mycelium™ platform is not just a breakthrough, it is a revolution for industries that are ripe for change”David Siminoff, Prime Movers Lab.
MycoWorks has seen an increasing demand from brands as conscious consumers are raising the bar and voting for products that are cruelty-free and sustainable. In addition to fashion brands, the start-up received requests from the automotive industry and upholsters.
With its first production plant worth $107 million, MycoWorks will be able to produce large quantities of the material to meet rising demand and create 400 new jobs in the process.
Beyond creating the alternative mushroom leather, MycoWorks goes a step further to test and prove Reishi’s long-term capabilities akin to animal leather with wear testing, fabrication testing, and accelerated testing. The results from third-party testing showed that Reishi can survive 100,000 bends and thousands of abrasion cycles.
“The world wants a natural alternative, but nobody wants to compromise on performance. Reishi performs”, said Matt Scullin, CEO of MycoWorks.
In 2021, MycoWorks began its first partnership with luxury brand Hermès, the result of which was a tailor-made Hermès Victoria bag made from the highly customizable Sylvania material. Now, the rising start-up has contracts in place with a range of global luxury brands.
However, MycoWorks doesn’t intend to cater only to luxury brands. Through their funding, the company aims to mass-produce products at various price points to make the material more accessible.
“This opportunity is massive, and we believe that unrivaled product quality combined with a proprietary, scalable manufacturing process has MycoWorks poised to serve as the backbone of the new materials revolution”, said David Simioff in a statement.