In collaboration with MycoWorks, luxury label Hermès has reimagined its classic travel bag using lab-grown mushroom leather.
Hermès bags don’t grow on trees, but the brand’s newest must-have bag is made from an unlikely source found in nature: fungi.
Responding to increased consumer demand for sustainable luxury, Hermès—a brand that began as a supplier of saddling and equestrian equipment—has introduced a new eco-friendly version of its classic Victoria travel bag. This one is produced using a new lab-grown material that imitates the properties of leather. The vegan leather—called Sylvania and made with Fine Mycelium—was developed in partnership with San Francisco startup MycoWorks, which created a patented process to turn threads from the root structure of mushrooms into a leather-like substitute.
“MycoWorks’ vision and values echo those of Hermès: a strong fascination with natural raw material and its transformation, a quest for excellence with the aim of ensuring that objects are put to their best use and that their longevity is maximized,” said Hermès Artistic Director Pierre-Alexis Dumas in a statement. “With Sylvania, Hermès is at the heart of what it has always been: innovation in the making.”
This innovation answers a demand from consumers who desire both increased transparency and sustainability practices. “Consumers and brands alike are requiring transparency in supply chains and prioritizing how to sustainably integrate new materials,” said MycoWorks Co-Founder and Chief of Culture Sophia Wang. “Fine Mycelium offers a solution that not only meets these demands, but also enhances the product design process by offering brands the unprecedented freedom to customize a natural material.”
While the leather might be vegan, Hermès is applying the same level of craftsmanship it’s known for to its sustainable products. After the material is produced in the MycoWorks facility, it is then passed to Hermès expert tanners in France to refine its strength and durability. As with all Hermès bags, a sustainable Victoria bag is made by one person, from start to finish, at Les Atelier Hermès just outside of Paris. The entire process for a Hermès craftsperson to create one hand-stitched, beeswax-coated bag takes up to 48 hours.
In many ways, sustainability is nothing new for Hermès. At Les Ateliers Hermès, waste from leather cutting is recycled or transformed into new pieces. And a handbag’s longevity is an important consideration. Hermès’ team of artisans help customers retain the original beauty of their leather objects for many years.
Whether Hermès will launch vegan versions of other classic bags like the Birkin or create an entirely new line of products made exclusively from Sylvania remains to be seen. But one thing is clear: demand for high-end alternatives to animal skins and for sustainable production practices will continue to rise.
Hermès’ collaboration with MycoWorks is a glimpse into a new era of sustainable innovation in fashion. “We are on the ground floor of what is possible with this material,” says Wang. “The potential is limitless.” The future is fungi, indeed.
Three Hermès stores are located within the Brookfield Properties portfolio, in Iconic Collection destinations:
Ala Moana Center | Honolulu, HI
Miami Design District | Miami, FL
The Shops at The Bravern | Bellevue, WA