Mushroom Leather Hat Is a Major Leap for Sustainable Fashion

This alternative to animal leather is all-natural and plastic-free.

Fouquet's hats made from Reishi, a mycelium material

Fouquet and MycoWorks

A dapper bucket hat is the first-ever commercial object made entirely from Reishi, a premium vegan leather created with mycelium. The hat, which is called the Reishi Boletus, is the result of a partnership between MycoWorks, a biomaterials innovator, and famed hatmaker Nick Fouquet. Along with the Boletus, Fouquet has designed and produced two additional hats—the Coprinus and the Morchella—that use Reishi as decorative trims.

For anyone who has been following the world of vegan leather, this is a momentous development. According to a press release sent to Treehugger, mycelium is the "infinitely renewable root structure of mushrooms," and yet it is able to grow and develop into a material that shares the strength and feel of the finest animal-based leathers with a far lower environment impact. It can be tanned without harmful substances like chrome, dyed, embossed, and stitched in the same way as leather. MycoWorks says, "Across standard test criteria, Reishi matches or surpasses cowhide leather in several capacities and demonstrates similar strength and abrasion resistance."

Reishi is described as a completely natural, non-animal biomaterial that allows artisans like Fouquet to "use the same leather-working tools and skills that they've acquired over a lifetime of working with leather." Fouquet himself is excited to experiment with a high-end alternative to leather. He says on his website, "I'm always on the lookout for renewable fabrics to work with... The moment I saw the MycoWorks Reishi leather alternative, I had to get my hands on it."

Fouquet is a French-American milliner based in Venice, California. His celebrated hat brand is said to infuse "whimsical, California-inspired elements with bespoke European detail," according to the press release. He recently opened a second location in Aspen, featuring hats designed specifically for Colorado-based clientele. His ready-to-wear pieces are now available for purchase online and at various luxury retailers.

hat made from Reishi

Fouquet x MycoWorks

Fouquet's hats are not cheap; the Reishi Boletus retails for $810, and that's the lowest price tag of the three in this particular collection. These are hats meant to travel and age alongside you as the years go by. No doubt the price for mycelium-based material will come down over time as production methods improve and increase. 

Whether you can afford it or not, the Reishi Boletus still merits praise and attention for what it represents—exciting innovation that holds great potential for replacing animal-based leather with an all-natural, plastic-free, and less toxic alternative. We know now that plastic-based vegan leathers, such as polyurethane and polyvinyl chloride, degrade as normal plastics do, taking a very long time to do so and contaminating the environment with leaching chemicals and microplastic fibers in the process. They're not the waste-diverting solutions that many designers would have us believe.

You can learn more about MycoWorks and Nick Fouquet's partnership here.