Stella McCartney, Best Made Co., Patagonia and Adidas are already fans of micro-silk; a shift dress designed by McCartney using this new, innovative fabric was even displayed at New York’s MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) at an exhibition called: Is Fashion Modern?
To make micro-silk, the developers first studied silk proteins spun by actual spiders, to see what their key properties were. Next, using bioengineering, they put spider DNA into yeast. Fermentation, using yeast, sugar and water, resulted in large quantities of protein being produced which was then purified to leave behind only the silk protein. Once this was isolated, it was spun into fibres that could be used to make fabric.
The company behind it, Bolt Threads, no longer uses spiders at all (just as well for any arachnophobes) but uses technology to reproduce the proteins needed to make vegan silk. “Initially, we spent a lot of time with spiders under a microscope spinning silk, trying to work out what they were doing”, says CEO, Dan Widmaier. The spiders were let loose in the lab to allow them to make their webs freely. Naturally, other scientists sharing the lab with Bolt Threads were not too happy!