Japanese biotech venture Spiber Inc. and sports apparel maker
Goldwin Inc. recently announced they would launch in December
what they claim is the world's first outerwear jacket made with
protein material produced via microbial fermentation. A limited
number of ‘Moon Parka jackets’ will be available for sale under
The North Face brand in
Tokyo for $1,400.
The surface layer of the jacket will use the pale gold-coloured
Research into synthetic spider silk for its unusual mix of
strength and elasticity started over a decade ago. Spiber says
it is now capable of producing transgenic proteins through
microbial fermentation, a manufacturing process that does not
rely on petroleum, a finite resource.
Spiber believes the new biodegradable material named ‘brewed
protein’ can offer a sustainable solution to the needs of the
apparel industry to move away from petrochemical and
animal-derived materials and the collaboration with Goldwin will
help in that direction, according to a news agency report.
Mass production of the jacket is unlikely before 2021 when
Spiber's protein fermentation facility, currently under
construction in Rayong, Thailand, is planned to start operation,
Kazuhide Sekiyama, representative executive officer of Spiber
said recently in Tokyo.
The jacket's prototype made with its synthetic spider silk
material QMONOS was unveiled in October 2015, and the launch of
the product was planned for the following year. But things did
not go according to schedule, due largely to the spider thread's
characteristic of shrinking when it gets wet.
Spiber then changed the course of development from its initial
goal of simulating spider silk to creating a new protein
material by utilizing enormous genetic data it decoded during
its previous research.
Spiber's proprietary technology enables the creation of a
diverse range of protein materials, each with different features
and forms, by modifying DNA sequences that code for its
proteins, the company added.