Lululemon’s First Mushroom Leather Gym Bag Is Here

Photo: Courtesy of Lululemon
From buttery-soft leggings to elevated loungewear, Lululemon’s greatest hits are well known to the brand's superfans (and Refinery29 readers). But did you know that the activewear imprint also makes ultra-luxe gym bags trimmed with mushroom leather? In February, two workout accessories featuring Mylo (an actually-sustainable, fungi-derived leather alternative) entered the Lulu-verse: a quilted, half-moon-shaped gym bag and a multi-functional meditation mat-slash-yoga-bag. We’ve been waiting for these products to launch since October of 2020 when the Canadian activewear brand — along with Adidas, Kering, and Stella McCartney — joined forces with Mylo manufacturer Bolt Threads to fund production of the material. I received a duffle bag from the capsule to review, and spoiler alert: It's durable, practical, and supremely stylish. Read on for a breakdown of the innovative new leather alternative and how I put the ’shroomy goods to the test.

Hang on, what is Mylo?

"Mylo is made from renewable mycelium, the root structure of mushroom," Dennis Wang, Lululemon's Vice President of Accessories Design tells Refinery29. Bolt Threads engineered the growth of mycelium cells into a leather-like product, which is then tanned and dyed in the manner of the standard animal stuff. The California-based fabric house does this in a "vertical farming facility powered by 100% renewable energy, and transform[s] it into a material that looks and feels like animal leather,” explains a statement on the brand’s website. Adds Wang, "The output is an innovative material that can be used in a variety of ways across apparel, accessories, and footwear.” It’s a welcome, long-overdue addition to the canon of leather alternatives, which until now consisted mainly of synthetic, plastic-derived materials like polyurethane and PVC.

What does Mylo look and feel like?

According to the CFDA’s Materials Index, Mylo has a “soft, supple, warm feel” and is “strong and abrasion resistant.” If that sounds a lot like leather, that’s because it is. Wang says that it’s “incredibly versatile and premium in look and feel, [and] we found it does in fact have a similar feel to leather and is quite flexible once you start working with it." Lululemon has spent two years experimenting with ways to use the material in its line of athleisure accessories.
"We intentionally featured Mylo in our two bags — the Barrel Duffle and also the Yoga Mat Bag — in the detailed woven handles and beautifully braided pulls and trims so our guests could experience the premium look and feel of [the leather alternative] in a functional way," says Wang.

Barrel Duffle Bag 24L with Mylo, $328

The first piece in the collection is the Barrel Duffle, crafted from a shell of 100% recycled nylon with a lining of 100% recycled polyester — and, of course, the fungi-friendly leather accents. During a recent ski trip, I used it to house my performance layers and small pieces of gear. The moderate size makes for the perfect elevated gym or overnight bag, and it comes with a removable small pouch perfect for important items like keys, identification, and emergency snacks — and it can also be worn as a crossbody if you switch out the long shoulder strap. (The mini pouch inside can also be worn as a crossbody.) "The Barrel Duffle bag is the ultimate [for] weekday-to-weekend needs," says Wang. "It features multiple pockets, a removable interior pouch, unique slip pockets on either side of the barrel — and of course, the Mylo features."
Photo: Courtesy of Karina Hoshikawa
While both the Barrel Duffle and the Yoga Mat Bag are primarily made of recycled nylon, the Mylo accents really make it feel luxe. The fact that the trims are made from shrooms is blowing my mind because the look and feel of it are truly on par with the real thing. Unless I got up close and personal and took a big 'ol sniff (which would be weird), I would've assumed it was genuine leather. For $328, it's an investment purchase in every sense and looks like it; however, given the fact that it may very well be the last gym bag I ever use means a lot to me since I make an effort to invest in products that will last me a long time — and hopefully forever.

2-in-1 Yoga Mat Bag and Meditation Mat with Mylo, $238

The second item in the drop, a portable yoga and mediation mat, offers equal parts form and function for the mindful human on the move. You can tote your yoga mat with it by wrapping up your rolled-up mat and securing it with the center buckle (pictured above). Another way to use it: Unfurl the bag flat to reveal a padded, circular-shaped mat perfect for sitting cross-legged for some meditative moments.
"Leveraging a material like Mylo demonstrates our commitment to creating a healthier environment through lower-impact products, while also giving us the ability to reimagine iconic pieces in our line through a sustainability lens," says Wang. "We are very excited for what our future holds with Mylo and other innovative materials."
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