A Japanese biotechnology company has figured out how to make spider silk without the spiders.
After 11 years of research, Spiber Inc. can now spin its own environmentally-friendly synthetic spider silk. According to Vegconomist, the adaptable product is made through complex microbial fermentation.
The vegan material, named Qmonos, could be used instead of petroleum-based fabrics like polyester and nylon, which are used frequently in the fashion industry – especially in sportswear – but come with a high environmental impact.
“Proteins are poised to become a sustainable next-generation material with potential unlike any the world has ever seen,” notes Spiber on its website. “It all starts with spider silk, which is 340 times tougher than steel. Protein materials are environmentally friendly, highly customizable, and have incredible functionality.”
The brand has already partnered with the Japanese ski clothing label Goldwin to make a ski jacket with its product. Named the Moon Parka, the spider silk-based jacket will be able to withstand significant wear and tear when the wearer is participating in extreme sports.
The companies began working on the Moon Parka back in 2015; it’s the first clothing item to come to market made with Qmonos and has already been nominated for a Beazley Designs of the Year Award, presented by the prestigious Design Museum in London.
The Fashion Industry Is Embracing Innovative Vegan Materials
Spiber joins a number of brands creating new, innovative cruelty-free and environmentally-friendly materials, in a bid to engineer a more sustainable future of fashion and clothing.
Italian brand Orange Fiber has also created a creative silk-like material, using citrus fruit. In a bid to reduce the amount of food waste produced by the juice industry, Orange Fiber uses the byproducts of the industry to create its fabric. According to the company, it saves “hundreds of thousands of tons” of fruit scraps by doing so.
Bolt Threads in California has also created cruelty-free silk. Like Spiber’s Qmonos, the company’s Microsilk is manmade, designed to mimic spider silk. It can also be sustainably produced on a large scale. It’s incredibly strong and durable – like Qmonos – and was first released to the public via a limited edition knit tie collection.