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Stella McCartney, whose entire brand ethos is real leather-free, debuted a mushroom leather handbag at her October 2021 runway show. VegNews dubbed this the world’s first vegan mushroom leather handbag, and it was no surprise Stella McCartney would be the catalyst in the leather alternative movement.

MycoWorks isn’t the only company at the forefront of mushroom leather. New York-based material innovation company New Evocative is also a company to watch, and they were also the company behind Bolt Threads’ Mylo mushroom leather, which Stella McCartney used to create mushroom leather handbags.

Both MycoWorks and new Evocative have seen substantial seed funding rounds and now have multi-million dollar valuations. Competition is growing in the leather category, although demand for leather doesn’t appear to be waning anytime soon. However, consumers who want real leather alternatives are on the rise.

Mushroom leather might be one of the most popular leather alternatives right now, but it isn’t the only one out there. Cactus, apple skin, and mango leather are growing in popularity as well. The term “bio-based leather” refers to these types of leathers.

Searches for vegan leathers are also on the rise, nearly tripling between 2020 and 2021, indicating a potential demand for leather alternatives. On the flip side, luxury leather goods are still expected to grow annually by a percentage of 4.32 percent.

There is concern about what will happen to traditional leather goods manufacturers and producers, but in a post-COVID-19 lockdown world, they appear to be faring well. Luxury brands, like Chanel, whose bread and butter are luxury leather handbags, are doing better than ever. The brand recently reported 15 billion dollars in revenue, and the Chanel Classic Flap Bag is one of the most coveted handbags on the market, fetching an 8200 dollar starting price tag.

– Ananya Ghosh