The news quickly makes its way around the web. But it requires careful reading, because the topic is slippery and lends itself (as we will see, unfortunately) to inevitable simplifications and exploitation. In a nutshell: Hermès has announced that, by the end of 2021, it will sell a version of the Victoria travel model packaged with a material called Sylvania, produced by MycoWorks. In other words, an imitation of leather made from the mycelium of mushrooms. But, at the same time, it made it clear that this is not a project that replaces leather.
What are we talking about
Business of Fashion launched the news. In practice, Hermès has completed a three-year collaboration with the Californian startup MycoWorks, which has developed a technology called Fine Mycelium. That is, a process that allows the vegetative apparatus of mushrooms to be cultivated in laboratory. That is, the mycelium which is formed by a remarkable intertwining of filaments. And all this transforms it into a material that imitates leather at the sight and, they say, in the properties. A material that, in order to have the image and likeness of leather, has gone through a series of process steps (dyeing and finishing, in particular, as we read online) within Hermés French tanneries. And this is already an important emphasis. But it is necessary to make another, more significant one.
It does not replace leather
Business of Fashion, in fact, writes that Hermès, with this decision, wants to add a new possibility of choice, placing Sylvania alongside its iconic materials, such as leather. And it adds that the French maison, in a statement sent by e-mail, has no intention of replacing them. In other words: introduces a new material by expanding a collection.
The slipperiness of the subject, however, is such that exploitation quickly emerged. There are many news headlines and posts that talk about “mushroom leather” and “alternative to leather”, when Hermès’ decision (which can be discussed as much as you want) does not seem oriented to wanting to put materials in competition and antithesis . And there is the ineffable PETA, who never misses the opportunity to make clockwork disinformation and releases a press release entitled “PETA Toasts Hermès for Sparing Calves in Switch to Mushroom Leather”. The usual aggressive and very dangerous indifference.