The Future is Fungi (and other natural things)

Diane Spriridoulias & Karen Kritzer – The Retail Duo

“Design is a connecting tool between people, economics and the environment - and out of this communion, understanding and respect new ideas and products with integrity can come about.” DR CARMEN HIJOSA


More than ever consumers are making sure they know exactly how the products they are purchasing are created and what they are created from. They are asking, and demanding to know about where items are produced, and the materials and properties of which they are composed of. Thankfully, brands are connecting more with the natural sciences and symbiotically walking hand-in-hand.



Who knew that 'shrooms are so versatile! Mycelium known for its insulating and moisture absorbing properties this makes it a highly coveted new fabric in the industry, especially within the athletic wear sector. Another notable property is that mycelium can be extremely paper thin or in contrast thick and durable. With only a maximum of a 4-week growing period this makes it an ideal choice for replenishment and regrowth which could meet any supply and demand issues. Brands such as Gucci, Lululemon and Adidas have all jumped on the Mylo bandwagon and are said to be selling products made of mushroom leather in the coming year. The Duo thinks this is one alternative to keep an eye on for sure.


When hemp fabrics are mentioned, many people envision the traditional hemp necklace as their first interaction with this fibre. A huge plus is that hemp crops do not require pesticides as they can take care of themselves. Also favourable in today’s post pandemic climate is that hemp has evidence of antimicrobial components. Extremely versatile hemp has been used in many facets of production from clothing to plastics and even building materials.


Pineapples are not just a favourite smoothie ingredient their leaves are another example of a new textile, Pinatex. It is derived of cellulose fibres extracted from  pineapple  leaves, PLA (polylactic acid), and petroleum-based resin.  Pinatex has already been used in the production of such items as wallets and purses durable properties.


It is not just pineapple taking the fruit salad by storm, Orange Fibers have been made into fabric which is produced from hundreds of thousands of tons of citrus juice by-product, called “pastazzo,” that otherwise would be wasted. The result is a soft and silk like fabric.


Not in the garden but on top of the ponds and lakes, Algae now more commonly referred to as “bloom” is a blend of just that, algae and polymers. London-based  Vivobarefoot  was one of the first brands to feature an algae-based polymer in their shoes. During a process of harvesting access algae out polluted water sources, they incorporate it into the soles of their Swim Run shoes.


Who also knew that corn could be so ah-MAZING! Corn based leather is also having its moment in the sun. This one will especially gain more attention when Louis Vuitton is expected to launch their new sneaker this August, which is comprised of recycled polyurethane and recycled polyester, along with corn based letter alternative. Combined with a classic LV refreshed logo (that very much resembles a recycling sign) which was designed by the late Virgil Albloh this new product brings sustainable practices to the forefront for the brand.



Banana Fibre has been cropping up in garnet construction as well. It is an alternative to cotton and silk is fairly delicate, and it actually comes from the inner lining of banana peels Iris van Herpen had Abaca Silk incorporated into her collection, which is derived from banana leaves in the Philippines, and it was visibly very comparable to silk organza.


Lastly, as yes it’s a thing – an alternative glitter!! Plastics and plastic pollution has become a world wide problem. Within the skincare industry consumers have been reading product listings that contain the words ‘microbeads’ and ‘polymers’…which many don’t automatically think about being ‘plastics’. A manufacturer based in the UK, Ronald Britton, has created a Bioglitter that has been made from a cellulose that is derived from eucalyptus. This is a much safer, healthier, and environmentally friendly product choice. We hope it smells great too!


Developments in the area of alternative fibres and materials sector are fascinating to watch and will always LEAF us wondering, how will this change the retail sector, and how can we utilize this knowledge to enhance the work that we do? Mother Nature is always providing us the tools we need to live a more sustainable life...we just have to be creative in how we use them.

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