May 07, 2016 I Paul Seaburn

Wearable Mushrooms are Here and They’re Fashionable Too

We’ve seen burial suits made from mushrooms that help a corpse decompose quickly and organically. Why should the dead be the only ones to wear mushrooms? A Dutch fashion designer agrees and is now creating stylish dresses made from lab-grown mushrooms that are biodegradable when the wearer grows tired of them or they no longer fit. How soon before this fashionable fungus is covering a Kardashian tush?

Aniela Hoitink is both a designer and an environmentalist so a mushroom mumu makes perfect sense to her when she sees so many old and even new dresses thrown away. In fact, it’s estimated that a wasteful 40% of all textile products are not sold at all and end up clogging landfills. That won’t happen with Hoitink’s creations because they’re made out of mushroom mycelium, the threadlike vegetative part of the mushroom that absorbs nutrients.

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Discs of mushroom fabric grown in a Petri dish

Hoitink chose mycelium because it grows fast and is non-toxic, water-resistant and fireproof when dried. It’s been used before in other applications such as biodegradable packing material, chairs and construction bricks. She gets her roots from a lab at Utrecht University and grows them in Petri dishes in a sterile environment. After just 10 days, the fungus covers the dish, so it’s removed to stop its growth and the disc is ready for the sewing room.

Except there is no sewing room, says Hoitink.

Then I just layer the pieces and attach to each other. There’s no need for sewing and you can see the dress comes together three-dimensionally as you’re making it. And if there’s a hole, you can just put a new patch on to cover it, without affecting the way the fabric looks.

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Closeup of a mushroom dress

The dress is made by sticking about 350 discs in layers to a dress form, where they can be arranged into patterns and fit to the eventual wearer’s form with minimal waste. There’s no word on how or if the dress can be cleaned but it’s definitely compost-able when the owner is tired of it or it’s out of style. Can a mushroom dress ever be IN style?).

The mushroom mycelium dress is displayed at the Fungal Futures exhibit in Utrecht, Netherlands. Hoitink has set up a company, NEFFA, to market the dresses made under what she now calls MycoTEX and expects them to be available to the public in a few years.

All it needs is a song. This one might work. Yell “Shroom!” in the right place as you join with me in singing “Devil With A Shroom Dress On..”

Paul Seaburn

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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