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WEARING MUSHROOMS WITH NEFFA AND MYCOTEX

MycoTEX prototype Avantex

November, 13th 2020

Parent company NEFFA and its founder Aniela Hoitink have developed a technology that uses fungi to create beautiful and intriguing high fashion pieces. Harnessing the planet’s elements and the power of scientific innovation, Aniela is driving meaningful change in the sustainability arena.

Words By Shannon Rice

Most people enjoy eating mushrooms as part of a healthy meal. It is safe to assume, however, that not many people have thought about wearing them. Aniela Hoitink is doing just that with her company NEFFA and the novel technology she has developed called MycoTEX®. As an accomplished artist and fashion designer, Aniela has worked for major commercial designers and corporate companies throughout her career. After twelve years in the industry, it was time for change.

When Aniela founded NEFFA in 2006, she had a clear goal to address the increasingly pressing problems within the fashion industry and tackle them with an entirely innovative and scientific approach. In 2014, she met with a scientist who was already working with mycelium, the branching bacterial colony in fungi. It is in these unusual, delicate structures that inspiration struck, and MycoTEX® was born.

“I wanted to design something that people would actually wear,” Aniela says. “That is where I almost turned away from sustainability and looked at innovation instead. But for me, innovation is sustainability and yields a higher quality product,” she continues. This trailblazing researcher has been paying homage to her roots in fashion design in the conception of her latest projects. Aniela acknowledges the trends in our consumer behaviour: “The first reason someone will buy your product is because it looks cool or nice. They don’t think about sustainability until the fourth, fifth, or even sixth reason.” Her goal was then not to change the consumer, but work with their thought process and offer them something that they will actually wear. Not only is she aiming to create aesthetically delightful pieces, she wants her customers to really think about the materials of their clothes.

“When we first launched MycoTEX, I went to the exhibition to see people’s reactions. I asked people if they thought it was cool or if they would wear it. When they said yes, I told them that it was made from mushrooms and they had to think twice about it!” She realized she could significantly change her whole supply chain process by collaborating with people outside of the fashion industry who were already using such research on fungi. “For me, the most important thing is collaboration. To the fashion industry, these new technologies are very foreign, but why not take what [other] people are doing and apply it to what I am doing?” 

mycoTEX final dress

Most people enjoy eating mushrooms as part of a healthy meal. It is safe to assume, however, that not many people have thought about wearing them. Aniela Hoitink is doing just that with her company NEFFA and the novel technology she has developed called MycoTEX®. As an accomplished artist and fashion designer, Aniela has worked for major commercial designers and corporate companies throughout her career. After twelve years in the industry, it was time for change.

When Aniela founded NEFFA in 2006, she had a clear goal to address the increasingly pressing problems within the fashion industry and tackle them with an entirely innovative and scientific approach. In 2014, she met with a scientist who was already working with mycelium, the branching bacterial colony in fungi. It is in these unusual, delicate structures that inspiration struck, and MycoTEX® was born.

Many brands pledging to invest in more sustainable production practices often only focus on one aspect of a product’s life cycle. MycoTEX®, on the other hand, uses a more comprehensive approach, employing “a two step process: growing the material, and its application with seamless technology”. Engineered to fit each body to a T, this textile does not require any cutting or sewing – it is indeed, seamless. The mycelium is grown like it would in nature and almost mimics the human skin. “I look to nature for a lot of my inspiration,” Aniela says. “Nature has been there forever. It is a harmonious ecosystem in and of itself. So I thought, how can I apply that to what I am doing?”

Drawing from nature and scientific technologies across various industries is the pinnacle of innovation for the fashion industry. As it stands, few are doing the incredible work that NEFFA is doing, with Aniela and her team making major progress in the sustainability field. Her vision for the future is one of “collaboration and not having quick fixes.” NEFFA’s work holds immense potential for creating meaningful change in the fashion industry.