MycoWorks, a Mycelium Textile Innovator, Achieves Production Breakthroughs Amid Rising Demand

MycoWorks, a Mycelium Textile Innovator, Achieves Production Breakthroughs Amid Rising Demand

Seraiah Alexander
Seraiah Alexander
May 15, 2024
3 min

Mycoworks, a major leader in biomaterials, has recently announced the successful harvest of over a thousand sheets of their mycelium-based luxury leather alternative, Fine Mycelium™, from its commercial-scale facility in South Carolina. This accomplishment exceeds the standards of the company’s pilot plant in California and marks a new phase in the expansion of MycoWorks production. As more companies express interest in sustainable alternatives to traditional leather, MycoWork’s recent accomplishment signifies a leap in quality and scalability in biomaterial production.

What is mycelium leather?

Mycelium, the fibrous root-like structure of fungi, has been successfully used to create textiles that resemble the look, feel, and durability of animal leather and suede. Mycoworks uses specialized strains of reishi mycelium combined with a substrate composed of biofuel waste and agricultural byproducts. The mixture is pressed into sheets and cultivated in a controlled environment until the product reaches optimum density, resulting in a cruelty-free, sustainable material that rivals traditional leather. Mycelium leather produces fewer greenhouse gasses and does not rely on livestock farming. Plus, the use of byproducts as substrates turns potential waste into high-end products.

Matt Scullin, CEO of MycoWorks, describes the process: “We fill a tray with a waste biomass, such as sawdust, we inoculate or seed that tray with the strain of mycelium, and then we perform some tricks.” Then, they “get this mycelium to grow on the surface of the sawdust in a very dense, strong layer that we then peel off and perform chemistry on. It uses much less water. It doesn’t use any chromium or any metal tanning. It’s a far more sustainable tanning process than what’s used for animal leathers.”

The San Francisco-based company was founded in 2013 and has since been committed to creating innovative and environmentally friendly materials. They have collaborated with several high-profile brands such as Hermès, Nick Fouquet, and General Motors to incorporate their innovative Fine Mycelium™ material into various products.

Although initial efforts to manufacture mycelium leather have met various production challenges, Mycoworks has successfully found feasible ways to mass-produce the material while maintaining quality and uniformity.

Technological innovations in the supply chain

In November 2023, Mycoworks successfully harvested their first sheets of Fine Mycelium™ in their newly opened South Carolina facility, surpassing the product standards from their California pilot plant. The company has developed a new method for creating Fine Mycelium™, integrating key elements of automation for the first time in biomaterial production. As a result, they have been able to reduce labor requirements by a factor of fourteen while also increasing the quality of their materials. This supply chain innovation represents a substantial shift, enhancing the efficiency and scalability of Mycowork’s production process. 

Previously, the process yielded only one sheet of Fine Mycelium™ per tray. The upgraded system now produces two sheets per tray, significantly increasing the output.

Doug Hardesty, MycoWorks’ Chief Operating Officer, highlights the achievement: “Our teams redesigned and scaled up our one-of-a-kind tray based process to achieve low cost and high quality production all while delivering Fine Mycelium™ to the market ahead of schedule, only 17 months after breaking ground. MycoWorks South Carolina is a remarkable achievement, now delivering the quality from craftsmanship via a scalable tray.”

These breakthroughs are set to boost the sales and availability of MycoWorks materials, enabling the production of more goods at a faster and more economical rate. As this process becomes more streamlined, Fine Mycelium™ is expected to expand into even larger-scale operations, drastically revolutionizing the biomaterials industry.

Luxury meets sustainability

Currently, MycoWorks’ products stand out in the market for their scalability, traceability, and minimal environmental impact, positioning them to revolutionize fashion and luxury supply chains. With the decline in leather production due to reduced beef and dairy consumption, MycoWorks offers a biodegradable, highly durable alternative that aligns with modern values.

“MycoWorks South Carolina represents the future of design and manufacturing of soft–goods. The potential of our technology is not to replicate existing materials but to leapfrog them—delivering an entirely new category of products to the market made from Fine Mycelium™. Uniquely differentiated from leather, our first product, Reishi™, represents an entirely new class of materials that is engineerable, controllable, durable and sustainable,” explains Scullin. “At MycoWorks, we are designing materials for a new world, and a future where mycelium is the natural material of choice.”

Fine Mycelium™ is now cost-competitive with high-quality animal leather, and as the company continues to expand, it will introduce more mass-market products at affordable prices. Positioned at the forefront of material innovation, MycoWorks is not just designing materials; they are shaping a new narrative in the biomaterials revolution, providing a sustainable, natural choice for a wide range of applications.


Seraiah Alexander

Seraiah Alexander

Content Editor

Table Of Contents

What is mycelium leather?
Technological innovations in the supply chain
Luxury meets sustainability

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