The emergence of vegan leathers is a sign of the times as the globe shifts to more plant-based options, and luxury brand Hermès is buying into the action. Yesterday, the company announced an unexpected partnership with MycoWorks, a California-based start-up with a patent that turns the threads of the mushroom root (called mycelium) into a material that feels and looks just like animal-derived leather. Now that the marriage between the two companies is official, a new vegan Hermès bag is on the way and will be available by the end of this year.

Hemés Launches First-Ever Vegan Travel Bag Made with Mushroom Leather

The "Victoria" travel bag is the first byproduct of the collaboration and will mimic Hermès' classic sleek leather appearance, but instead with mushroom-based material. This unpredictable move for the upscale brand goes against company tradition: Hermès established itself as a harness workshop for European noblemen in 1837 and built its upscale reputation on providing the finest animal skins, pursuing calfskin, crocodile, lizard, ostrich, and alligator leathers in all of its designs, most famously, the Birkin Bag, which can cost more than a mortgage. Although Hermès noted that the faux leather will not replace the original Victoria bag made with calfskin, any step in a cruelty-free direction helps the brand to forge a new vision of luxury. Could a vegan Birkin be on the horizon? We'll have to wait and see.

Is Vegan Leather Here to Stay?

Hermés x MycroWorks is an unlikely collaboration we can all get behind, including Pierre-Alexis Dumas, Hermès' artistic director. “MycoWorks’ vision and values echo those of Hermès: a strong fascination with natural raw material and its transformation, a quest for excellence, with the aim of ensuring that objects are put to their best use and that their longevity is maximized,” Dumas said in a statement reported by Business of Fashion. “With Sylvania, Hermès is at the heart of what it has always been: innovation in the making.”

Luxury Fashion Brands Aim For a Vegan, Sustainable Future, Including Gucci

Hermés isn't the only luxury brand that is branching out to more sustainable and cruelty-free textiles: Top names like Gucci, Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, Prada, Valentino, and more found vegan alternatives to replicate leathers and furs without compromising million-dollar profits. In fact, Marco Bizzarri, Chief Executive and President of Gucci said of using animal materials, “I don’t think it’s still modern,” when the fashion house decided to ban fur back in 2018. Each designer is taking a step into a more sustainable, cruelty-free future, reflecting the growing demand for a greener and more compassionate world.