ECCO Leather, a division of the Danish footwear company ECCO and a supplier of innovative and premium leathers, has announced an ongoing partnership with Ecovative – a mycelium innovator that produces vegan leather alternative materials, in order to develop and market the following generation of mycelium materials for a variety of new products.
In a first-of-its-kind collaboration, ECCO Leather and Ecovative, a company that develops mycelium technology, will work together to produce leather for a variety of consumer products. Ecovative is a global leader in the development of sustainable materials using mycelium, the fibrous “root structure” of mushrooms. Mycelium materials are being tested against the strict performance requirements for industrial leather goods and tanning procedures by Ecovative and ECCO Leather, which started exchanging materials and techniques earlier this year.
This partnership is being developed further to release additional items. The custom-tuned mycelium materials created through this process are expected to be provided by Ecovative to ECCO Leather as part of a long-term off-take agreement. ECCO Leather will then transform these materials into novel materials for both its own brand and to supply its network of material partner companies.
The collaboration on the complete range of material development and commercialization opportunities is now possible thanks to this agreement. Both businesses will use their distinctive expertise and production technologies, such as AirMycelium™ at Ecovative, which produces 100 % pure mycelium hides to specification, and ECCO Leather’s cutting-edge tannery processes, which require less time, chemicals, and water than conventional textile finishing methods. These processes will be used from research through testing and prototyping to products on store shelves.
Gavin McIntyre, Chief Commercial Officer of Ecovative, said that partnerships like this one with ECCO Leather are the best and fastest approach to advancing innovative materials with biology. They will assist in moving the industry closer to genuine sustainability and circularity by combining their know-how and capability to grow mycelium at scale with ECCO Leather’s extensive grasp of what is required for the best leather products in the world.
McIntyre will lead the new cooperation at each of their organizations along with Bart Hofman-Kronborg, ECCO Leather’s Group Manufacturing Director. In response to rising consumer demand for environmentally friendly items, the initiative is anticipated to deliver cutting-edge mycelium materials on a worldwide scale.
Bart Hofman-Kronborg, Group Manufacturing Director of ECCO Leather, said that Mycelium is a completely new canvas that they can design using both conventional and cutting-edge material methods. It eliminates the complexity of the raw hide supply chain while enabling them to introduce a new material category to the market, giving consumers an environmentally conscious alternative to petrochemical-derived materials. Tanneries have traditionally only been connected to the production of animal hides, but mycelium enables this 5,000-year-old sector to grow, diversify, and penetrate new markets for materials.
The development of mycelium may be controlled and tailored to a range of different uses using Ecovative’s unique technology. In an effort to increase sustainability, ECCO Leather has spent the better part of a decade studying a variety of innovative materials. With experience in creating high-value products from byproducts like animal hides, ECCO Leather has developed processes and chemistries that maximise the potential of this novel and exciting material category. These processes and chemistries draw on both tradition and innovation in the leather industry and beyond.