Fabric Made from Spider Silk Could Be Coming Our Way Very Soon
Creepy, yes. But also badass?
Silk, that gorgeous draping textile that’s softer than a baby cherub’s butt cheeks, is derived from worms. After munching on a diet of fresh mulberry leaves, silkworms shoot liquid silk out of spinnerettes in their heads to build cocoons, which are in turn harvested by silk farmers. A new technology may make it possible to derive silk from another much-maligned animal: spiders.
Shiver at the thought, but those Daddy Longlegs that build unwelcome cobwebs in your home might be receiving an official invite into your wardrobe sometime in the near future. Companies Polartec and Kraig Biocraft Laboratories have joined forces to announce they will be bringing forward a recombinant (a fancy word for bringing together genetic material from multiple sources) spider silk material to market for use in “high-performance textiles and apparel.” So, athletic wear.
Spider silk has long been known as one of the most naturally strong materials known to humankind. It is oft repeated that spider silk is five times stronger than steel and that a Boeing 747 could be stopped in flight by a single pencil-width strand of spider silk, which seems…unlikely, but we’ll take it.
The spider silk technology was initially developed for military applications (sounds ominous) and the companies note that its “strength-to-weight ratios are more comparable to aramid fibers than other current performance fibers.” Aramid fibers are strong, heat resistant synthetic fibres more likely to be used in aerospace than athleisure. “The possibilities of recombinant spider silks are particularly exciting, realizing unprecedented combinations of physical properties such as luxurious feel and breathable comfort with top durability,” the companies told WWD.
How will this spider silk be mass-produced, exactly? As it turns out, Kraig owns the patent on the technology to implant spider silk gene sequences into silkworms. Creepy, sure. But how badass would it be to just roll up to the gym in a pair of silver shimmery spider silk leggings? Extremely badass.