By Sharon Verhoeks
It is the muse of many artists and the habitat of fairytale creatures: the mushroom. They are trendy and have been an ethereal organism since mankind started writing about them.
A mushroom or toadstool is the fleshy, spore-bearing body of a fungus, typically produced above ground, on soil, or on its food source. A fungus, plural fungi – is any member of a group of organisms whose cells have nucleus enclosed with a nuclear envelope, also known as the eukaryote domain. Where there is a divide within the domains, the system also is connected to each other. They influence each other’s environment, actions and conditions the same way we would describe an ideal mankind produced society.
This same foundation can be found within the separate zones. Most fungi reproduce by releasing tiny spores that then sprout and grow into a new fungus, born to be a part of an ever-growing network. Some fungi drop spores, which are blown away by the wind. Other fungi shoot them out in an explosive burst, roaming around freely. Mushrooms, in a sense, rebirth and reinvent themselves all the time.
Surprisingly, fungi have recently made their way into the wonderful world of fashion. Hérmes announced that by the end of 2021, a mushroom leather, called ‘Sylvania’ will be used for their ‘Victoria’ bag. The famed fashion house has spent the past three years working to create a leather alternative with the company MycoWorks, Inc. who are specialized in material science. Hérmes is not the only big name in fashion to switch their material attention to mushrooms; Stella McCartney also revealed a two-piece outfit made from mushroom leather, also known as mycelium.
Aside from proving their worth as an exceptional alternative to leather in the sustainability megatrend, mushrooms’ visual appearance is also starting to pop up in mainstream culture and media. Several streetwear collections incorporated the fungi friend as a key print motif, for example by Only NY. Surrounded by surreal landscapes or subjects, the mushroom presents itself in a psychedelic world on sweaters, jeans and tees. Psychedelic motifs also link to the current revival of 60s and 70s patterns.
Mushrooms can be used as a meat substitute for physical health, but also as medication for mental health issues. Spirituality is on the rise in a world full of uncertainties, so it’s not strange people turn to alternative remedies involving mind altering options. Psilocybin expands the mind and allows users to reflect on their ego. That’s where micro dosing comes in, where one is able to enjoy the creativity, productivity and openness of psilocybin without experiencing the full trip for 4 hours.
Mushrooms as a seed of innovation present a coming age of rebirth, especially the rebirth of spirituality. The video for ‘Good Days’ by SZA amplifies this message. Singing about inner peace, she is surrounded by giant mushrooms in a grass field. It represents our regained connection to nature. We came from our mothers and we will end in the dirt, a process ever evolving, the same way mushrooms grow. Mushrooms represent our need for more outside the material world we created, distinguishing material joy from spiritual joy.
As the pandemic still rages on, our need for spirituality and mental health will only grow. Some forecasters are already speaking of a revival of the roaring twenties. May the mushroom keep us on our feet and guide us into a healthy collective where we care for each other in the same way fungi care for each other. Only then we will be able to generate a sustainable future for the next generations.