Last Thursday, on July 20th, American textile innovator Bolt Threads announced a new partnership with British fashion house Stella McCartney. Bolt Thread writes on their blog, “Today we’re thrilled to announce a partnership with Stella McCartney, a world-renowned brand known for its dedication to eco-innovation. We’ll be unveiling our first collaborative product, a one-of-a-kind custom dress made entirely of Bolt Microsilk™ at the New York Museum of Modern Art’s upcoming exhibit “Items: Is Fashion Modern?” opening October 1st.”
Bolt Threads is an American biotech company based in Emeryville, California, dedicated to biomimicry and textile innovation. They believe that we can find solutions to our most pressing sustainability issues by understanding nature. Through studying the relationship between a spiders’ DNA and the characteristics of the silk fibers they make Bolt Threads developed a technology to produce silk in a lab. The man-made silk is primarily consisting of sugar, water salts and yeast. The yeast produce silk protein in a liquid form during fermentation, very much like a beer-making process. After some processing, the liquid silk protein can be turned into fiber through wet-spinning, which is the same way fibers like acrylic and rayon are made. Today the entire process takes place in the US, from crop to lab. Bolt Threads are planning on keeping the production domestic also when increasing production volume in the future.
Stella McCartney is a well-known animal activist and sustainability advocate. More than 50 percent of McCartney’s women’s collection is made from sustainable materials, and the brand is said to be vegetarian. McCartney has had a lot of back lash for using natural silk in the past, but with this partnership she will be able to defend her vegetarian standpoint fairly. Bolt Threads says that McCartney was very interested in the entire process and got hands-on wile visiting the lab in California. “Stella McCartney herself came to tour our labs and immerse herself in our technology, while wearing a stylish denim jumpsuit, naturally. She even got hands on with some of our experiments, much to the surprise of our scientists.”