Biotech start-up Spiber and The North Face’s Japanese distributor Goldwin have created the first mass-manufactured jacket made from spider silk.
Only 50 Moon Parkas have been produced from the emulated spider silk – an artificial material based on the DNA of spider’s silk –which keen buyers can enter a lottery to purchase.
Previous garments made using lab-grown spider silk, including the 2015 iteration of the Moon Parka and the Adidas x Stella McCartney Biofabric Tennis Dress, have been created as prototypes, meaning they were not produced at scale and made available for purchase.
The reason various biomaterial companies have been trying to artificially re-create spider silk, which the animals use to form webs or cocoons, can be attributed to its unrivalled natural properties.
“Spider silk is a protein fiber that has long been somewhat of a holy grail for material scientists because of its unique ability to combine both strength and extensibility in one fiber,” said Daniel Meyer, Spiber’s head of global corporate planning.
“It has been said that a spider web with threads one centimetre in diameter could stop a jumbo jet in flight,”Daniel Meyer
This is an especially appealing prospect for the outer- and performance-wear industry, which traditionally relies on petroleum-based materials such as nylon to create clothing that is durable enough to withstand tough conditions.
Going forward, the synthetic proteins for the Moon Parka will likely be produced in Spiber’s mass production plant in Thailand, which is set to be completed in 2021 with more than £35 million in funding secured.
It will be 100 times larger than Spiber’s pilot plant in Japan and is expected to be the world’s largest structural protein fermentation facility, capable of producing several hundred tonnes per year.