North Face is attempting to revolutionize the clothing industry with a new spider silk clothing line.
Spider silk is one of the toughest known natural materials on the planet. It is five times stronger than steel and tougher than Kevlar making it a perfect candidate for those who abuse their outdoor gear.
The only problem until recently is it is very hard to acquire to be used on any type of industrial scale. Spiders are more territorial and cannibalistic than we often realize when enclosed in tight spaces together.
Biotech company Spiber figured out how to take the protein spiders use to make their webbing and introduce it into specially created bacteria. The end result had the bacteria creating the protein in vast amounts as a byproduct while they grew. The proteins are then refined into a fine powder before being pushed through special needles to create fibers that are spun into silk.
Goldwin, in a collaborative effort with Spiber, took the new silk and turned it into the North Face Moon Parka. It is the first piece of clothing ever made from an artificial protein material.
In a recent press release they stated that prototyping the Moon Parka gave them great insight into the challenges that they will face to mass produce items made from the spider silk. While we may not be able to get out hands on this great material at the moment it could soon find its way into our clothing and other items in the near future.
The real reason they are so excited about this breakthrough is the fact that it could help put a cap on the monstrous energy and resource consumption that current synthetics like polyester and nylon take to produce. This new synthetic spider silk is completely sustainable and takes less to produce.
“The textile industry is the dirtiest industry on the planet. Everything relies on toxic chemistries,” Sue Levin the CMO of Bolt Threads told Popular Science. “This is a clean starting point.”
It took Spiber eight years to produce this silk. In that time, they have created over 250 different types of thread to be used in various areas of production for apparel, medical supplies, and the auto industry.
Spiber’s next project is to attempt to create a similar protein the silk worm produces that can be turned into an even hardier material.