Indonesian handmade-wooden watchmakers, Pala Nusantara is experimenting with watch straps made from leather of a different kind – mycelium leather otherwise known as mushroom leather.
Mycelium or mushroom leather is fibrous and tough yet pliable and waterproof, and has been touted as an environmentally-friendly alternative to synthetic products or natural leather made from animal hide.
Pala Nusantara have teamed up with mycelium leather manufacturers, Mycotech, who have developed a bio-leather – known as Mylea – in an effort to deliver a sustainable and affordable material from renewable resources.
The Bandung-based start-up, Mycotech grows the fungus on sawdust and then harvests the leather. After scraping off the sawdust, the mycelium leather is dried and then cut to various sizes. It takes approximately three weeks to make 10 square metres of material.
Pala Nusantara cuts and sews the mycelium leather into straps for its watches, which are made with a wooden bezel.
Mycotech were inspired by tempeh, the traditional Indonesian dish, which is made by combining white soybeans with a fungus named Rhizopus oligosporus. The fungus’s mycelium binds the soybeans together and made them solid.
The mycelium leather costs less to make than petroleum-based synthetic leathers, according to Mycotech, and Mylea produces a fraction of the carbon dioxide emitted by the cows killed to make real leather.
Keeping mycelium leather production as environmentally-friendly as possible, Mycotech uses plant-based dyes extrated from leaves, roots and even food waste to colour the mycelium leather.
Indonesia produces more than 120 million tonnes of agricultural waste, with less than 10% being recycled. Mylea aims to minimise the carbon footprint of fashion goods as it utilises agricultural waste and uses biodegradable materials throughout the entire process.
Last month, Pala Nusantara and Mycotech raised almost $28,000 via a Kickstarter campaign in an effort to increase production of their mushroom leather and wooden watches and to fulfill a larger market demand, while also giving them the opportunity to further their research and explore more sustainable materials, making it possible for everyone to use it in many different applications.
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyles including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at Rosamedea.com