Muskin — Mushrooms for Clothing?

Jordan Medeiros — Week 14, Post 10

Modern design has brought about a breakthrough in the concept of the structural skin. Per the Industrial Revolution, structure and skin were separated, freeing the facade from the skeleton. Contemporary design has pushed the envelope on this idea even further, testing an expansive array of materials to redevelop the idea of skin and enclosure. Muskin, a vegan alternative to leather, is a byproduct of this revolution.

Created by the Italian manufacturer Grado Zero Espace, Muskin is an PETA-approved vegan alternative to conventional animal leather, harnessed from the head of a parasitic fungus called Phellinus ellipsoids that commonly grows atop trees in subtropical forests. In accordance with being entirely vegetable in nature, the material is manufactured without the use of toxins and chemicals, making it friendly to those with chemical sensitivity.

At the moment, Muskin is most commonly used in bags and hats for its leather suede-like texture, however, its material capacities provoke a more expansive usage. The material possesses the capabilities of being waterproofed, primarily through the usage of eco wax, but more importantly it is highly resistant to humidity with the ability to absorb moisture and release it in a timely fashion, much like a conventional fabric would. Given these material qualities, Muskin could expand to watches and shoe insoles, replacing animal-harming leathers or chemically-based insoles.

Muskin takes an environmentally conscious approach to material skin through discovering an alternative to animal leathers. While this is a critical step in alternative design conventions, it is crucial to remember the nature of this material. Phellinus ellipsoids is still of the environment meaning that responsible harvesting and consideration must take place before moderate usage and implantation of the material can take place. Even though it may be an invasive species, there is still a human footprint being placed on ecosystems and the environment. What are the implications of Muskin’s usage? Furthermore, is the harvesting of mushrooms still just? In other words, does sustainability, in this sense, mean the abandonment of one exploitation in favor of a new exploitation? How should this be mediated in favor of balance?

Sources: Playground — Sustainable Brands — Grado Zero — Life Materials


One comment

  1. Jessica Pilarski

    I find this topic very interesting. I personally have been a vegan for years so I admire this technology immensely. As a vegan its very difficult to find products that resemble the luxury and quality of leather. I have never heard of this technology but after reading your post I started to research this material and I was amazed by it. Some questions that did ponder my mind was does this product contain the same strength as traditional leather. For example leather is some what elastic. This is helpful because it easy to maneuver and usually has a longer life. because this leather is made of a natural component (mushrooms) is it more environmentally friendly or is it biodegradable? I think if that was the case this material would be revolutionary and could completely change the way fashion is constructed. My final question I had about this product was scent. I know this seems weird but leather has a very distinct scent that many people adore. People have created car freshners and candles based off of this scent. Now when I think of mushrooms I think of smelly. It reminds me of the mushrooms in my kitchen back home that give off a rather musky smell. Does this smell linger onto the faux mushroom leather that is being made. I feel like this material is so fascinating and being a vegan I am extremely impressed and ecstatic that someone has come up with a leather like this that gives off the same feeling as traditional leather but that doesn’t harm animals.
    (week 13)

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