Premium leather producer Ecco Leather, part of the Danish footwear brand Ecco, is partnering with mycelium tech company Ecovative to develop and commercialise the "next generation of mycelium materials” for footwear, fashion and apparel.
In a statement, the two companies said they will collaborate directly to pursue new mycelium materials, from research through testing and prototyping to products on store shelves to mark the first-of-its-kind partnership between a traditional leather tannery and a mycelium technology company.
Both companies will apply their unique expertise and production technologies to the project, leveraging Ecovative's strengths as a global leader in developing sustainable materials with mycelium, the fibrous 'root structure' of mushrooms with Ecco Leather's expertise in the development and production of leather for a wide range of consumer products.
This will include combining AirMycelium at Ecovative, which produces 100 percent pure mycelium hides to specification, and Ecco Leather’s innovative tannery processes that require less time, chemicals, and water than traditional textile finishing methods.
Leather tannery Ecco partners with mycelium tech company Ecovative
Earlier this year, Ecovative and Ecco Leather began trading materials and methods to test mycelium materials against the high-performance standards for commercial leather products and tanning processes. That collaboration is being expanded and extended to bring new products to market, with Ecovative supplying Ecco Leather with the custom-tuned mycelium materials developed through this process, which Ecco Leather will transform into novel materials for both its own brand and to supply its material partner network.
Gavin McIntyre, chief commercial officer of Ecovative, said: "The best and fastest way to advance new materials with biology is through partnerships just like this one with Ecco Leather. By combining our expertise and capacity to grow mycelium at scale, and Ecco Leather's extensive understanding of what's needed for the best leather products in the world, we will help bring the industry closer to true sustainability and circularity."
McIntyre and Bart Hofman-Kronborg, the group manufacturing director at Ecco Leather, will spearhead the new partnership at their respective companies.
On working with mycelium, Hofman-Kronborg added: “Mycelium represents a brand-new canvas on which we can create with both traditional and novel material processes. It removes the complexities of the rawhide supply chain, while its fast and efficient growth allows us to bring a new material category to market, one that gives consumers an environmentally conscious choice over petrochemical-derived materials.
“Historically, tanneries have exclusively been associated with animal hides; with mycelium, this millennia-old industry can evolve, diversify and expand into a wider material market.”