Silk is the animal fabric that many people don’t even consider – but the truth is that over 6,6 thousand silkworms die to produce just one kilogram of silk.
The use of silk isn’t eco-friendly, either: recently, the Pulse of Fashion Industry Report found silk to be second most polluting material (after cow’s leather) when analysed for cradle-to-gate impact (from the obtaining of raw materials to the final stage when the product reaches the consumer).
Bolt Threads, a material company in California, seem to have come up with a solution, however. which could well be the fruit of a new ground-breaking innovation… Introducing synthetic spider silk.
The company has created a replica of the extraordinarily resilient silk produced by spiders – nature’s very own weavers of silk thread. Farming spiders for silk has never been a viable option – arachnids are too territorial to be farmed in groups, as it can lead them to cannibalism. But Bolt Threads has found a way to tap into spiders’ impressive abilities and replicate them without involving a single actual spider.
The brand develops proteins inspired by natural silks through bioengineering, where genes are added into yeast. The yeast is then fermented with sugar and water and the liquid silk proteins are extracted.
This is similar to the protest used to make rayon and acrylic – only more eco-friendly. The challenge has always been to transform the raw material into actual, usable yarn – it was proving to be too thin.
After years of research, Bolt Threads was able to solve this issue and present a resilient and durable yarn, which is as soft and supple as real spider silk.
And unsurprisingly Stella McCartney is the first to pioneer this ground-breaking material working with Bolt Threads on a Microsilk dress featured in an exhibition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.
We love hearing news like this here at Ethea, here’s to more pioneering innovations from incredible companies around the world as we look towards a more cruelty-free future.