Step right up and get your necktie made in a laboratory! That’s right. This biologically engineered marvel can be yours for a mere $314. But even if you’re willing to fork over the cash, you’ll still need to enter a lottery to snap up this little piece of history. There are only 50 available.
Bay Area biotech startup Bolt Threads recently introduced a breakthrough product in its limited edition, synthetic, spider silk necktie made entirely of lab-grown proteins. Through a complex and very science-y process involving the isolation of silk proteins, genes being infused into yeast, and a fermentation process involving said yeast, sugar and water, they have developed technology that will enable them to replicate the natural processes of the silk worm. This allows them to produce mass quantities of silk proteins that can ultimately be spun into strong, elastic and durable fibers. These can then be woven into fabrics and garments.
According to their website, Bolt Threads is in the business of “spinning the future of high performance fabrics.” Indeed! As the technology and apparel industries continue to evolve and merge together, the race is on to create commercially viable biomaterials that will ultimately provide sustainable alternatives to petroleum-based fabrics like polyester, nylon and acrylic. But, as is the case with so many tech-based innovations, some of the biggest challenges lie in scale and cost. Hence, the humble, little tie. It’s a practical, easily produced staple meant to showcase the technology at a reasonably affordable price.
So, there you go. The future consists of genetically engineered spider webs, gloopy microbial soups and silk threads as strong as steel. It’s something to think about as you button up your old-school, classic, cotton dress shirt.
Maybe the future can wait just a little bit longer.