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Toward a Sustainable Future

mushroom とForest

What is vegan leather?

Many people associate the word "vegan" with diet and lifestyle, but in recent years " vegan leather " has been gaining attention.

Vegan leather refers to all artificial leather made without using animal-derived raw materials. In addition to conventional synthetic and man-made leather made from petroleum-derived raw materials, vegan leather that utilizes plant-derived raw materials has been attracting attention in recent years.

Plant-derived vegan leather

The reason why plant-derived vegan leather is attracting attention is the growing environmental awareness.

The earth's environment is no longer able to withstand the current massive consumption of meat. Methane gas contained in cow burps is estimated to account for about 5% of total greenhouse gas emissions.
To address this problem, plant-derived meat substitutes are being developed, and in the future, cattle will be bred less and leather may need to be made from alternative materials.

Against this backdrop, development has progressed around the world, and numerous plant-derived vegan leathers have appeared, including pineapple leaves, mushrooms, cactus, apple, and coffee beans.

Challenges of Plant-Based Vegan Leather

With current technology, it is difficult to reproduce the physical properties of leather, which have been improved over a long history, using only plant ingredients. Therefore, most plant-derived vegan leather, including mushroom leather, is reinforced with PVC (polyvinyl chloride) or PU (polyurethane). Plant-derived PU also exists, but many challenges remain in terms of the percentage of plant components, durability, biodegradability, and texture.

In such a situation, Mushroom Leather MYCL is a new recyclable material that does not contain PVC or PU and returns to nature. Taking advantage of the similarity between the intricately intertwined fiber structure of leather and the mycelium of mushrooms, Mushroom Leather MYCL achieves strength and durability similar to leather using only the mycelium. You can also enjoy the texture of the mushrooms as they are.

Mushroom mycelium Photo: MYCL Japan

Misconceptions Expanding with Plant-Based Vegan Leather

The shift from petroleum-based raw materials to natural sources is a wonderful and sustainable trend.
However, there is a growing misconception that leather is bad for the environment, along with vegan, plant-based leather.
We wondered how we, as a leather goods brand, could send a message to the public.
After much deliberation, we came up with the idea of combining plant-derived vegan leather with animal-derived leather.

mushroom leather

From Leather to Leather

Since the Paleolithic Age, humans have supported their survival not only by using hunted animals for food, but also by turning their bones into tools and their skins into clothing. Transforming perishable animal skins into durable leather is the wisdom of mankind to survive the harsh environment.

Also, cows are not killed to make leather. Hides are a byproduct of the meat industry. If the hides are not converted into leather and used effectively, they can only be incinerated, which produces a large amount of CO2.

Upcycled leather is a sincere respect for life, and is essential to both meat consumption and the preservation of the global environment.

cow made by leather
Vachetta leather (cowhide) Photo: Kawamura Leather

Vegan Leather and Leather of Plant Origin

There are very few cases in which vegan leather, which is characterized by its plant origin, is pasted together with animal-derived leather.
However, leather is more durable, recyclable, texturally pleasing, and sustainable than PVC or PU, which can provide the physical properties that leather can't.

MYCL, a 100% mycelium-derived mushroom leather, and vegetable-tanned vacchetta leather are the ideal combination.

Plant-derived vegan leather and leather are not opposites, but rather complementary partners working toward a sustainable future."

We hope to convey this to as many people as possible.

mushroom leather
Mushroom Leather Photo: MYCL Japan