Bestseller and PVH will have priority access to Ecovative‘s mycelium innovations through its Forager Hides platform and will work directly with the Ecovative team to co-develop custom mycelium materials for a range of end products and consumer applications.

Global innovation platform Fashion for Good was integral in bringing the parties together to advance a petroleum-free vegan leather.

Ecovative has more than a decade of experience producing materials based on mycelium – the root structure of mushrooms – for the textile, food and packaging industries.

Mycelium has a unique biology that can be leveraged to grow materials that self-assemble into complex, fully-formed structures. Ecovative launched Forager Hides, its alternative leather material, in March 2021.

Forager Hides are based on Ecovative’s second-generation mycelium material, building on more than five years of research and development in Ecovative’s Mycelium Foundry. The 100% bio-based mycelium material is grown in sheets up to 24 metres in length and 1.8 metres wide, and can be grown to a partners’ specific needs in terms of tensile strength, density, and fibre orientation. The entire growth process takes only nine days and yields a ready-to-finish material free of plastic scrims and petroleum based coatings, the company says.

Through the cooperative, Bestseller and PVH designers will work in tandem with Ecovative’s team of engineers and mycologists to create mycelium solutions for their products. Members in the Fashion for Good Cooperative will bring their fashion industry expertise to work with Ecovative in a design, build and test research and development strategy. Together, the cooperative will develop mycelium materials for the consumer market.

“At PVH we are excited to explore innovations that reduce the environmental impact of our products,” says Rebecca England, vice president of innovation, PVH Europe. “Mycelium provides us with an opportunity to respond to growing consumer interest in lower impact products while supporting quality and design that meet the needs and expectations of our consumers –  in this case, made with 100% bio-based resources. We look forward to testing and learning alongside our partners to create scalable, sustainable solutions.”

Anders Schorling Overgård, Bestseller’s sustainable materials engineer, adds: “Mycelium shows great potential in the fashion innovation sphere – it even extends far beyond our own industry. We are keen on diving into the product development phase and really understanding the aesthetics and actual performance of Ecovative’s innovative materials in the lab. This pilot enables us to gain more insight into mycelium as a leather alternative, which ultimately is both biodegradable and fully bio-based.”

From soft and supple leather accessories and garments to durable and thick belts and shoes, Ecovative scientists are able to fine-tune their product to meet a wide array of end product needs.

“By marrying innovation with legacy, we can focus on what we do better than anyone else in the world — growing the best mycelium at commercial scale,” says Gavin McIntyre, Ecovative co-founder and chief business officer. “Working directly with fashion brands and tanneries, we make beautiful, high-performing and sustainable materials without harming animals or the planet.”

Katrin Ley, managing director of Fashion for Good, adds: “Biomaterials have been in development for years, but they have yet to reach even a small portion of customers. Ecovative has been focused on scaling its technologies to deliver mycelium at the scale necessary for industry leaders like Bestseller and PVH Corp. This is an exciting development in the drive to scale up these solutions and increase accessibility.”

Ecovative raised $60m in funding earlier this year to grow mycelium-based materials better and faster, in key markets, at industrial scale.