If these shoes set your Spidey-senses tingling, that is because adidas’s Futurecraft Biofabric shoes have been woven from synthetic spider silk, then grown in a lab by German startup AMSilk. Along with other spider-silk products are turning out all around the area. The North Face has collaborated with Western business Spiber to craft the Moon Parka from its own version of the material. And Patagonia is working using California-based startup Bolt Threads to produce its own high-performance jacket.
Material scientists have attempted to replicate the properties of spider silk in a industrial scale for decades. The naturally occurring substance is up to five times more durable than steel, remarkably light and incredibly elastic. This gives it immense potential, not only for clothing, but also engineering and medical applications.
Large-scale production has so far been impossible – largely since spiders increased in large numbers grow irate and eat each other. Currently labs are using genetically altered E. coli or yeast to produce the silk proteins . The resulting silk is then summoned by imitating a spider spinneret.
Adidas shoe states AMSilk’s BIOSTEEL is 15 percent lighter than its customary coach cloths. Even though it isn’t cheap – Adidas has not announced the price of the Futurecraft Biofabric shoes, which go on sale later in 2017, but the Moon Parka prices $1,000 (#810).
By editing the proteins during the fermentation process, the companies say it’ll be possible to custom-grow different silks for different purposes – from sneakers to bulletproof vests. This may be a trend that sticks.